|Elevation gain||39 feet|
|My Time||26 minutes|
|Closest Town||Estes Park|
Sprague Lake is a very popular spot for picnic’s, nature walks, and moose sightings at Rocky Mountain National Park. The well groomed trails and minimal elevation make it a great spot for those of all skill levels and abilities to enjoy.
Sprague Lake is located just off of Bear Lake Road on Sprague Lake road. The lake sits between Glacier Basin and the Storm Pass Trailhead. This is one of the more popular areas of the park especially for families, those with small children, or some of the less mobile guests.
When you pull into the parking area the first thing that stands out is a ton of picnic tables available for a nice picnic in the park. The Sprague Lake trail is easy to spot near the front of the parking lot by the wood trail/bridge that denotes the beginning of the trail.
This bridge crosses over a little outlet stream that eventually is part of the Glacier Creek and Boulder Brook. The bridge takes you right up to the lake where you can your first views before deciding which direction to head.
Sprague Lake is more of a nature walk than a hike. I believe that any walk in nature is a hike though so this counts for sure! The trail is really easy to follow and is wide. On good weather days the trail is flat and made of hard packed dirt and some wood bridges. On days when there is snow, though, the trail can get a little dicey for those unsure of themselves. So make sure you are comfortable on the terrain that you see on your visit.
The entire hike around the lake is only three quarters of a mile and has very little elevation gain making it a great choice for all skill levels. On my trip I saw people from every age bracket, going at every speed and all really enjoying themselves. While the whole experience is great the best part is definitely the views.
As you circle around the far side of Sprague Lake the views become some of the best in the park.
In spring the snow covered mountains that are just about five miles away really pop against the blue of the sky and water. The lakes near the mountains are still frozen but the Sprague Lake water was flowing.
As you continue to circle the mountains come into full focus against the sky. Ducks were enjoying the clear water of the lake.
For such a short and easier hike the views are amazing and definitely worth the trip. The mountain views are visible for most of the hike but even the view of the surrounding hills to the east at the start of the hike are impressive.
This is such a great short hike and I was very happy to see families, and grandparents, and little kids all enjoying the time and views. If you are heading to Rocky Mountain National Park and worried about hiking at altitude, or maybe aren’t very mobile, this could be a perfect way to enjoy the park and test some skills.
It is said that in the summer and fall moose enjoy spending sunrise around Sprague Lake. I have never been that sunrise to verify this but I have heard it from a couple of people. If you have never seen a moose before, they are majestic and huge! They also almost always wake up in a bad mood and can be dangerous. If you encounter a moose make sure you give it plenty of space and never try to feed or approach!
Distance and Elevation
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around .93 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 39 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 8,720 feet. I was also moving for a total of 26 minutes.
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Sprague Lake is one of the easiest nature trails you can take at Rocky Mountain National Park. It is flat and a very well groomed trail that is under a mile. There also is very little elevation gain. There can be snow and ice on the path which adds to the difficulty but during good weather this is a trail that should be able to be enjoyed by all skill levels.
The trail at Sprague Lake is as close to a sidewalk or paved surface as you can get. With hard packed dirt, wooded bridges over trouble spots, and a wide clearly marked surface, this terrain is very easy to manage. The only trouble parts come with snow or ice on the path. Half of the trail had ice on my trip and it was a struggle for some of the older and younger hikers and those without proper shoes.
Rocky Mountain National Park has gone to a ticketing system. There are several time slots during the season available for each day that allow access to certain parts of the park. Check out Recreation.gov for tickets and more information. There is also a $35 dollar/vehicle fee to enter Rocky Mountain National Park
The Sprague Lake Trailhead can be found off of Bear Lake Road about halfway to the Bear Lake Trailhead. You will turn on a short, well signed road that takes you to either Sprague Lake or the Equine Center. There is parking for about 40 cars, several picnic tables and pit toilets at the trailhead.
Wrapping up Sprague Lake
What a wonderful and enjoyable hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. It is easy and well designed enough to allow almost everyone a chance to explore a high altitude lake with majestic mountain views. I was so impressed seeing the group of people enjoying themselves. Small children running, older folks walking with a canes. Artists sketching the mountains from a bench. I even watched a young couple get married at the waterfront! That was all in under a half hour!
Some of the hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park are really challenging and it is nice to see a spot in the park that is accessible to everyone and where everyone can enjoy the wonders of the park and of nature. For those of you who skip this spot because it is too easy, take a look when you get a chance and I am sure you will enjoy it!
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