Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Ouzel Lake - 9.9 miles

Wild Basin Trailhead

Ouzel Lake (10,010') in the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park

Ouzel Lake (10,010') in the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park

Round-Trip Length: 9.9 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,500' - 10,010' (10,026' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,510' net elevation gain (+1,702' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Ouzel Lake - 9.9 Miles Round-Trip

Ouzel Lake (10,010') is located 4.95 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies midway up a valley partially culled by fire in 1978. Ouzel Lake fills a marshy low in the center where moisture helped preserve a ring of timber around the lake. Visitors will enjoy prize fishing and good views through thin forests on the hike to Ouzel Lake:

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail rises gently beside North St Vrain Creek to spurs for Lower and Upper Copeland Falls (.35 and .45 miles). Mild travel continues to the backcountry campsite access trail (1.38 miles : 8,860'), crosses the creek and climbs .45 miles to Calypso Cascades (1.8 miles : 9,108').

The trail wraps up a north-facing valley wall and passes through an area touched by lightning-induced fire in 1978 (2.1 miles : 9,100'). Despite significant damage, the forest is in a natural state of recovery.

Grasses and flowers now fill the hillsides, while young aspen and lodgepole emerge in replenished soils. In time, spruce and fir will overtake them and restore the forest to its ecological climax.

The trail steepens to Ouzel Falls (2.6 miles : 9,366'), drops and rises back to the Ouzel Lake - Thunder Lake Trail split (2.95 miles : 9,418'). Bear left for a short, moderately steep climb to a divisive E-W ridge between the Ouzel Creek drainage (south) and North St Vrain Creek drainage (north).

The trail bends west through the heart of the 1978 Ouzel Fire zone with good views across Wild Basin through a culled forest: Pilot Mountain (12,222'), Mount Alice (13,310'), Mt Meeker (13,911) and Longs Peak (14,259') are visible to the northwest, and Copeland Mountain's (13,176') north flank frames Ouzel Lake to the south.

The trail undulates along the exposed ridge to the Ouzel Lake spur (4.5 miles : 10,026'). The spur turns south and crosses the valley on a variously faint and uneven path to Ouzel Lake (4.95 miles : 10,010').

Bluebird Lake is a challenging 1.9 mile - 968' climb from the Ouzel Lake spur. Trail conditions are more rugged and may be obscured by snow and runoff well into summer. Call ahead for conditions. Those continuing on will have a good view across the Ouzel Lake basin and the fire's selective path.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 12.464 W105 33.990 — 0.0 miles : Wild Basin Trailhead
  • N40 12.230 W105 34.391 — .45 miles : Spur to Upper Copeland Falls
  • N40 12.051 W105 34.982 — 1.0 mile mark
  • N40 12.022 W105 35.293 — 1.35 miles : Spur to backcountry campsites
  • N40 11.731 W105 35.426 — 1.8 miles : Calypso Cascades
  • N40 11.939 W105 35.788 — 2.25 mile mark
  • N40 11.919 W105 35.981 — 2.65 miles : Ouzel Falls
  • N40 12.094 W105 36.197 — 3.0 miles : Ouzel Lake and Bluebird Lake Trail junction
  • N40 12.040 W105 36.332 — 3.3 miles : Reach E-W ridge over Ouzel Lake drainage
  • N40 12.196 W105 36.898 — 3.8 miles : Undulating travel along exposed ridge
  • N40 12.141 W105 37.518 — 4.5 miles : Ouzel Lake spur - bear left
  • N40 11.983 W105 37.875 — 4.95 miles : Ouzel Lake

Worth Noting

  • Ouzel Falls and Ouzel Lake are named after the Ouzel - or Dipper - a small bird that jumps into cold mountain streams and 'flies' underwater to catch insects on the bottom.
  • There are numerous back country campsites en route to the lake. Check with the back country office well in advance, as they're popular sites and may be periodically closed due to bear activity.
  • The Wild Basin Area is heavily traveled; arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Campsites in the Wild Basin Area

Pine Ridge Backcountry Campsite

  • The Pine Ridge site is located 1.4 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 8,880'. There are 2individual sites and a privy. 2 backcountry sites are located in a lodgepole forest north of the trail, just east of the bridge across North St. Vrain Creek. A food storage cable is about 8 steps past the spur to site #1. It's in a small clearing to the left and runs perpendicular to the trail. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek.

Tohosa Backcountry Campsite

  • The Tohosa site is located 1.7 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,040'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located .3 miles up the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a lodgepole stand at the edge of a small rocky bluff. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approx. 160 yards downhill from the site.

Aspen Knoll Backcountry Campsite

  • The Aspen Knoll site is located 2.3 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,400'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a mixed aspen-spruce-lodgepole forest. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approximately 200 yards downhill from the site.

Siskin Backcountry Campsite

  • The Siskin site is located 3.2 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,460'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail in a lodgepole stand. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek, approx. 135 yards downhill from the site.

North St Vrain Backcountry Campsite

  • The North St Vrain site is located 3.5 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,560'. There are 2 individual sites and a privy. The sites are located along the unimproved, backcountry campsite access trail, right where it rejoins the main trail. A food storage cable is located 20 steps up the access trail in a small clearing on the left, and parallel to the trail. The sites lie in a thick lodgepole stand on the north side of the trail, just after it crosses North St. Vrain Creek. Obtain water from North St. Vrain Creek.

Thunder Lake Backcountry Campsite

  • The Thunder Lake site is located 6.8 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,574'. There are 3 individual sites, 1 group site, and 1 stock site. The individual sites are located in a forested area north of the trail about 300 yards east of the lake. The stock site is about 100 yards from the lake on the south side of the trail and slightly east of the hitchrack. Obtain water from Thunder Lake's outlet stream.

Ouzel Lake Backcountry Campsite

  • The Ouzel Lake site is located 4.9 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,020'. There is 1 individual site and a privy available. The site is located north of the trail and east of the privy in a mixed lodgepole, spruce, and fir forest. Obtain water from the lake's inlet stream.

Upper Ouzel Creek Backcountry Campsite

  • The Upper Ouzel Creek site is located 5.6 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,600', approximately .7 miles below Bluebird Lake. There is 1 individual site available, located north of the trail above the hitchrack and natural terraces. Obtain water from the creek.

Fishing Information

  • A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary; however, special regulations exist. It's your responsibility to know and obey them. Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries management, fishing regulations can change at anytime. Special closures may be put in place above and beyond what is listed here. Contact the park before heading out for current information.
  • Method of Capture: Each person shall use only one hand-held rod or line. A 'second rod stamp' is not honored in park waters. Only artificial lures or flies with one (single, double, or treble) hook with a common shank may be used. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices made entirely of, or a combination of, materials such as wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber, designed to attract fish.
  • This does not include: (a) any hand malleable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; (b) any device to which scents or smell attractants have been externally applied; (c) molded plastic devices less than one and one-half inch in length; (d) foods; (e) traditional organic baits such as worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, minnows, and fish eggs; and (f) manufactured baits such as imitation fish eggs, dough baits, or stink baits. Fly fishers may utilize a two hook system, where one hook is used as an attractant.
  • While in possession of any fishing equipment, bait for fishing (insects, fish eggs, minnows, or other organic matter) or worms is prohibited. Children 12 years of age or under, however, may use worms or preserved fish eggs in all park waters open to fishing except those designated as catch-and release areas.
  • No bait or worms are allowed in catch-and-release waters.
  • Use of lead sinkers (or other lead fishing materials) is strongly discouraged.

Rules and Regulations

  • A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

Ouzel Lake is accessed from the Wild Basin Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trailhead is located 2.3 miles west of Highway 7 between the towns of Allenspark and Estes Park.

From Estes Park, head south on Highway 7 for 11 miles to the Wild Basin turnoff on the west side of the road. Turn west on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located 2.15 miles from the entrance station. Parking is limited, and roadside restrictions are strictly enforced.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:

Backcountry Office:

Campground Reservations:

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Big bull moose hanging around the lake this weekend! "
Nikki Kelly  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: June 19, 2017
"The secluded road to the Wild Basin trailhead makes one think they have found a hidden spot, but upon arrival the lot was nearly full and crawling with people all headed for Ouzel Lake - definitely not a trail for those seeking solace. Lots of water to enjoy without going any further than Ouzel Falls, where the new bridge appears to be done but was still blocked off."
TH  -  Omaha  -  Date Posted: September 28, 2015
"The views along the way are spectacular. Give yourself about 4 hours if you are carrying a pack. The campsite is awesome. Water is very close. The lake and creek are one of the most beautiful in Colorado. Worth every step to get there. It is without a doubt one of the best campsites in Colorado. Bring your fly rod and extra batteries for your camera. A mature doe hung at our campsite like a pet. Good base camp to go to Bluebird. Enjoy."
Michael Major  -  Aurora  -  Date Posted: July 16, 2013


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