Lake Verna, East Inlet Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lake Verna - 13.8 Miles
East Inlet Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||13.8 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,391' - 10,200'|
|Elevation Change:||+1,809 net elevation gain|
Lake Verna is located 6.9 miles from the East Inlet Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies near treeline in the upper reaches of a deep valley framed by Andrews Peak (12,565'), Mt Alice (13,310'), Boulder Grand Pass (12,061'), Isolation Peak (13,118'), and Mt Craig (12,007').
This long but mild trail closely follows the East Inlet drainage through broad meadows and thick forests all the way to the lake. Miles of creek access, abundant wildlife, a stop at Lone Pine Lake, and 8 backcountry campsites en route make Lake Verna one of the most complete hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park:
The trail runs flat in a mixed pine - aspen forest to Adams Falls (.3 miles), then skirts the north edge of a vast, marshy meadow. Moose are common along willow-lined oxbows in the meadow.
The trail rises nominally to the Lower East Inlet backcountry campsite (2.3 miles), then steepens up the north valley wall with good views down the meadow through which you just passed. Aspen, tall columns of lodgepole, and audible streams highlight this pleasant stretch.
Grades moderate in a stream-crossed flat near the Cat's Lair backcountry campsite (4.0 miles), and closely follow a voluminous stretch of East Inlet for 1.5 miles to Lone Pine Lake (5.5 miles : 9,985').
The trail swings around the south side of Lone Pine Lake; be patient with your camera, as the trail quickly climbs above the lake with very good views back down at it. The trail touches countless tributaries on a steady climb to the Solitaire backcountry campsite at 6.2 miles.
The final .7 miles run relatively flat along Lake Verna's outlet. A sign on the lake's west edge indicates where the maintained trail ends and unimproved trail leading to Spirit Lake begins.
Lake Verna (6.9 miles : 10,200') is notably large with a long shoreline to explore; it's worth continuing a few hundred yards up the unimproved trail on the lake's north side to appreciate the scale. This unimproved portion of the East Inlet Trail continues on to Spirit Lake, Fourth Lake, Fifth Lake, and Boulder Grand Pass, which leads to Thunder Lake on the east side of the Continental Divide.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N40 13.678 W105 42.88 — Lake Verna
- Elk and Moose are particularly common in the East Inlet corridor. Look for moose browsing open meadows in the morning, and in dark timber as temperatures rise.
- Spirit Lake is 1.1 miles past Lake Verna on an unimproved trail. The trail may be difficult to follow in places, especially with lingering snow.
- Tributaries cross and may obscure the trail in many places. The trail will likely be wet throughout the summer and into early fall.
- The East Inlet Trail has 8 backcountry campsites that fill up quickly during peak summer months. Advance reservations are necessary.
- Contact the ranger station for fishing rules and regulations. A Colorado fishing license is required. Rules are strictly enforced.
The East Inlet Trailhead is on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park within the town of Grand Lake. Follow Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) to the turnoff for Grand Lake on Highway 278. Turn east toward Grand Lake, then bypass the main road through Grand Lake, following West Portal Road and signs toward the boat launch area. The trailhead is located about 2.7 miles from U.S. 34 along the eastern shore of Grand Lake, opposite the boat launch.
Rocky Mountain National Park