Timber Lake, Timber Creek Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Timber Lake - 9.6 miles
Timber Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,042' - 11,085' (11,094' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,043' net elevation gain (+2,294' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Timber Lake - 9.6 Miles Round-Trip
Timber Lake (11,085') is located 4.8 miles from Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It shares a wide, level basin with two adjacent ponds beneath Mt Ida (12,889').
A well-cut trail leads through diverse forests and long meadows frequented by moose and elk. Visitors will enjoy excellent fishing and room to explore this open alpine setting:
The Timber Lake Trail curls south through an aspen-lodgepole forest accented by arnica, kinnickinnick, columbine and fallen trees. It rises steadily across a steep N-S hillside to a stream that feeds the Colorado River (.65 miles : 9,108'). Gaps in the forest offer partial views of the Never Summer Range (west).
Spruce and fir soon emerge (2.0 miles : 9,925') on a steady S-SE climb to the Timber Creek backcountry campsite spur (3.05 miles : 10,185').
The trail briefly meets Timber Creek at the Long Meadows Trail split (3.25 miles : 10,225'), but quickly veers northeast on steep switchbacks into a heavy subalpine forest.
Grades moderate through a clearing to the first Jack Straw backcountry campsite on the edge of a notably large meadow below Jack Straw Mountain (4.1 miles : 10,798').
The trail levels by the second Jack Straw site (4.25 miles : 10,825') and shifts quickly in a thinning, rugged forest to the Rockslide (4.55 miles : 10,926') and Snowbird (4.65 miles : 11,015') backcountry campsites.
It clears treeline on the NW corner of Timber Lake (4.8 miles : 11,085'). The basin and adjacent ponds are generally obstacle-free and easy to explore. Wildflowers are particularly abundant in these damp, sunny banks. An informal route continues up the lake's east shore to Mt Ida.
Look for bighorn sheep on slopes over the lake. Those with time should consider a cross-country detour into Long Meadows, which are among the largest in the Park.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N40 23.993 W105 50.834 — 0.0 miles : Timber Creek Trailhead
- N40 23.667 W105 50.491 — .65 miles : Cross over cascade on bridge
- N40 23.403 W105 50.605 — 1.0 miles : Steady climb through lodgepole and aspen
- N40 23.010 W105 50.485 — 2.0 miles : Transition from montane to subalpine forest
- N40 22.487 W105 49.827 — 2.5 miles : Southeast heading across steep hillside
- N40 22.240 W105 49.314 — 3.05 miles : Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite spur
- N40 22.229 W105 49.088 — 3.25 miles : Long Meadows Trail split
- N40 22.450 W105 48.782 — 3.75 miles : Steep, winding climb into high subalpine
- N40 22.601 W105 48.473 — 4.1 miles : Jack Straw Backcountry Campsite spur #1
- N40 22.683 W105 48.374 — 4.25 miles : Jack Straw Backcountry Campsite spur #2
- N40 22.733 W105 48.061 — 4.55 miles : Rockslide Backcountry Campsite spur
- N40 22.678 W105 47.955 — 4.65 miles : Snowbird Backcountry Campsite spur
- N40 22.577 W105 47.877 — 4.8 miles : Timber Lake
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
- A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
- There's a $26 fee to backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park (May 1 - October 31). This administrative fee covers each party (defined as an individual or group) for the duration of the trip. Note that park entrance fees are applied separately and in full.
Timber Creek Backcountry Campsite
- The Timber Creek campsite is located 3.1 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,250'. There are 2 sites available, located 200' south off the Timber Lake Trail on a well-marked spur. The sites are in a mixed pine forest between the trail and Timber Creek. Water is accessible year-round from the creek.
Jack Straw Backcountry Campsites: #1 - #2
- The Jack Straw campsites are located .15 miles apart along the edge of Jack Straw Meadow. The sites are located 4.1 and 4.25 miles from the trailhead at 10,795' and 10,855' (respectively). The first is situated in a thin forest across Timber Creek on the west edge of the meadow, the second is in a thin forest above the north edge. Each has access to a privy. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek.
Rockslide Backcountry Campsite
- The Rockslide campsite is located 4.6 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 10,960'. There is one site available, located on an open, talus-strewn slope on the north side of the trail. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek , Timber Lake and several nearby tributaries.
Snowbird Backcountry Campsite
- The Snowbird campsite is located 4.65 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead at 11,015'. There are two sites available. The sites are located in a sparsely wooded rocky meadow north of the trail, concealed from it by a small ridge. Water is accessible year-round from Timber Creek and nearby tributaries.
- Wood signs mark campsites, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to indicated sites as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited. Permits are required for all overnight stays in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- A valid Colorado fishing license is required to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Only catch and release fishing is permitted in Timber Lake and Timber Creek.
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.
- Horses are not permitted on the unimproved trail leading to Long Meadows.
Directions to Trailhead
The Timber Lake Trail begins at the Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Timber Creek Trailhead is located on Trail Ridge Road, 30.2 miles west of the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station (east entrance), and 9.2 miles north of the Kawuneeche Entrance Station (southwest entrance). The Timber Creek Trailhead is located 71 miles north of the I-70 Winter Park exit.
Rocky Mountain National Park