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 is located 4.8 miles from the Timber Creek Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It shares a large, level basin with two adjacent ponds beneath Mt Ida (12,889').
A well-cut trail leads through diverse forests and luxuriant meadows where moose and elk sightings are common. Visitors will enjoy excellent fishing and room to explore this idyllic alpine lake setting:
The Timber Lake Trail curls south through an aspen-lodgepole forest accented by arnica, kinnickinnick, columbine, and fallen timber. 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.
The trail clears treeline on the northwest corner of Timber Lake (4.8 miles : 11,085'). The lake 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 rocky 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 Rocky Mountain National Park.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- 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
- Aspen in the beginning of the trail make this a nice fall hike.
- An unimproved trail continues past Timber Lake to Mt Ida.
- Elk and moose are frequently seen on the TImber Lake Trail. Deer, grouse, and bear are also common.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Jack Straw Backcountry Campsites: #1 - #2
Rockslide Backcountry Campsite
Snowbird Backcountry Campsite
- 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.
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