Fantastic Family Hike to Fern Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

I can feel the frustration coming out in my writing when I look back at the last time we made it to Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby.

This time around, I hope I can express my delight with this waterfall hike. We ventured out on May 25th, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Although the Rocky Mountain National Park filled up with visitors over the holiday, we lucked out with great parking* close to the Fern Falls trailhead.

A highlight of this lower elevation* hike is the nearly constant view of the Big Thompson River. Most of the hike is very child friendly as long as you watch out for little ones wandering too close to the river, or getting too adventurous on the amazing rock formations.

Big Thompson River

Arch Rocks

We started the hike with the hopes of making it to Arch Rocks (1.2 miles) or The Pool (1.7 miles) if we were lucky, but the girls were doing so awesome we decided to hike to Fern Falls which is 2.6 miles each way. That’s a little far for our kids to hike on their own, so we carried them a lot of the way in a deuter kids carrier and an ergo baby carrier.

kids hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

The distance from The Pool to Fern Falls is a little under a mile, but you gain 400 feet of elevation quickly. I was out of breath but had to remind myself that I was carrying a 16-month-old toddler.

The hike up was totally worth it. Everyone was in a great mood and the waterfall was impressive.

Fern Falls lives up to its name, the surrounding area is lush and damp. We didn’t stop long because mosquitoes were swarming the area.

Trip Tips:

*Fern Lake trailhead has a small non-paved parking area. The road leading to the trailhead becomes narrow for two-way vehicle traffic. There is shuttle service and some additional parking .8 miles away from the trailhead.

*Fern Falls trailhead begins at 8,150 ft of elevation so when I say ‘lower elevation’ I mean  low compared to many places in RMNP, but high for those of us from non-mountain regions. Remember to take it easy and drink lots of water!

Fern Falls with a Fussy Baby

The longer I’m a Mom, the more I appreciate back up plans!

We arrived to Rocky Mountain National Park on a popular summer weekend so we couldn’t find a parking spot near the Fern Lake trailhead. The park had a great backup option. We were able to park at the Fern Lake Park & Ride lot (added a .7 mile walk each way on narrow, gravel road).

The hike begins on pretty flat terrain and follows the Big Thompson River. The area is lush with several access points to fish or picnic.

Big Thompson River
Big Thompson River

Cecy didn’t sleep well the night before our hike, so she started out pretty fussy. If she didn’t settle down and fall asleep in her carrier, our backup plan was to cut the hike a little shorter by stopping at either Arch Rocks or The Pool.  Arch Rocks are 40ft vertical boulders that lean towards one another. They are huge!

Arch Rocks
Arch Rocks

The final mile from The Pool to Fern Falls felt pretty steep, so I was relieved to see the waterfall and start our journey back.

Fern Falls
Fern Falls
Back by Arch Rocks - almost done!
Back by Arch Rocks – almost done!