FATMAP difficulty grade
If you’re looking for a moderate trail that gives a taste of the national park, don't miss the Cub Lake Loop.
It’s in a very popular hiking area, but the trails are particularly well suited to running.
Park your car, or take the free shuttle to either the Bear Lake or Fern Lake trailhead.
The loop is good in either direction.
Clockwise will give you more gradual elevation gain, however.
Heading south from the trailhead, you’ll roll along the base of a wooded hill, looking out at the big meadow of Moraine Park.
Following the trail into a narrower valley, you’ll begin to go uphill, still at the edge of a meadow.
The ascent is casual until just before the lake, with a steeper and rockier section. Cub Lake has a tranquil backdrop of forested hills and snowy peaks.
The surrounding forest is heavily burned, though, from a wildfire in 2012 and another in 2020.
Among the skeleton trees, you can expect wildflower displays and mountain views, but not much shade.
A brief climb up a sunny ridge gets you above the lake.
Don’t forget to turn around at the top and take in the view. Next, the trail descends efficiently to the river, with a few technical sections.
You’ll join the Fern Lake Trail at a popular hiking destination called The Pool, then cross the bridge and start cruising back toward the trailhead.
It’s a rolling, gradual descent through the forest on a fast but potentially busy trail. Note that the Moraine Park area, including Cub Lake and Fern Lake trails, was closed following the 2020 East Troublesome Fire.
When the trails reopen, likely in 2021, they may have some damage, reconstruction, or reroutes. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/romo_cublake.htm https://www.visitestespark.com/blog/post/top-5-trail-runs-in-estes-park/