Ouzel Lake, Wild Basin Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Ouzel Lake - 9.9 Miles
Wild Basin Trailhead
|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)|
Ouzel Lake is located 4.95 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies midway up an alpine valley partially culled by fire in 1978. Ouzel lake fills a marshy depression in the valley-center, where moisture help preserve a heavy forest ring around the lake. Visitors will enjoy prize fishing and lighter crowds on the hike to Ouzel Lake:
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 (1.35 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 stricken 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 wildflowers brighten 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 rangy views 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, while Mount Copeland's (13,176') north flank looms over the Ouzel drainage to the southwest.
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 miles and 968' climb from the Ouzel Lake spur (see related trail link above). Trail conditions are more rugged and may be obscured by snow and runoff well into summer. Contact a Park Ranger for conditions and melt dates prior to venturing out. Those continuing on will have a good view of Ouzel Lake and the fire's selective path.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- 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
- 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.
From Boulder, take Highway 36 north 14 miles to the town of Lyons. Remain on 36 to the Highway 7 intersection. Turn left onto Highway 7 towards Allenspark. Remain on Highway 7 and look for the Wild Basin Trailhead entrance on the left (approximately 37 miles from Boulder). Turn left on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located 2.3 miles from the entrance station.
Local Contact Information:
Rocky Mountain National Park