Finch Lake, Wild Basin - Finch Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Finch Lake - 9.2 miles
Wild Basin - Finch Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.2 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,470' - 9,912' (10,069' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||1,442' net elevation gain (+1,759' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Finch Lake - 9.2 Miles Round-Trip
Finch Lake (9,912') is located 4.6 miles from Finch Lake Trailhead in the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park. This shallow, upper-montane lake sees lighter traffic than other Wild Basin destinations which makes it a good choice during peak months.
Visitors will enjoy tranquil forests with excellent fishing and backcountry camping options at Finch Lake:
The trail initially heads east and climbs 470' in just .8 miles to a sharp hairpin turn, where it bends SW and levels across grassy aspen - ponderosa hillsides. Well-spaced trees create good viewing lanes for wildlife on this mild stretch.
The trail continues steadily past connections for Allenspark Trailhead-access (1.4 miles : 8,974') and Calypso Falls (2.35 miles : 9,520').
Gaps in the forest offer good views up Wild Basin valley toward Mount Copeland (13,176') and Ouzel Peak (12,716').
The trail steepens to a large break where lightning-induced fire struck in 1978 (2.55 miles : 9,740'). Despite ostensible damage, forests require periodic fire to thin timber, create space for new growth, and replenish soils.
The trail re-enters a dense spruce-fir forest and shifts frequently to a footbridge (3.85 miles : 10,072'). Small streams, Spanish Beard and verdant ground cover accent this peaceful area.
Variously level and rugged travel resumes to a crest and sharp right turn down winding switchbacks (3.95 miles : 10,069'). Fringe season travelers should anticipate this turn, as snow may conceal it well into June and again by October.
The trail winds steeply down for .2 miles and levels in thick timber on the east side of Finch Lake (4.35 miles), then wraps to the north shore where distance measurements are taken (4.6 miles : 9,912').
Views are best from the south and east shores, though deadfall and marshes encumber travel around the lake. The main trail continues another 2.3 miles to Pear Lake (10,582').
- N40 12.507 W105 33.660 — 0.0 miles : Finch Lake Trailhead
- N40 12.424 W105 32.841 — .8 miles : Hairpin turn west - trail levels
- N40 12.128 W105 33.340 — 1.4 miles : Allenspark Trailhead access split
- N40 12.134 W105 33.915 — 2.0 miles : Break in forest with terrific views north
- N40 11.973 W105 34.227 — 2.35 miles : Calypso Falls Trail split
- N40 11.560 W105 34.683 — 3.0 miles : Undulating travel in subalpine forest
- N40 11.291 W105 35.048 — 3.5 miles : Moderate climb in thick spruce-fir forest
- N40 11.035 W105 35.291 — 3.95 miles : Sharp right turn downhill
- N40 11.051 W105 35.541 — 4.35 miles : Finch Lake - access on east shore
- N40 11.026 W105 35.655 — 4.6 miles : Finch Lake - Group Campsite spur
- Aspen and underbrush along the first 2 miles are especially colorful in the fall.
- Finch Lake maintains 3 backcountry campsites and a privy.
- Though many areas in Rocky Mountain National Park have suffered aesthetic losses from pine beetle kill, the Finch Lake Trail is notably pristine, thick, and verdant.
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.
Backcountry Campsites in the Wild Basin Area
Fires are not permitted within Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the silver metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail:
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 near 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.
Finch Lake Backcountry Campsite
- The Finch Lake site is located 4.6 miles from Finch Lake Trailhead, or 5.3 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 9,912'. There are 2 individual sites, 1 group site, and a privy. A food storage cable is located 15 steps from the north corner of the hitchrack in a clearing between it and a large boulder. The sites are located in a mixed pine-spruce-fir forest on the north shore of Finch Lake. Obtain water from Finch Lake or outlet.
Pear Creek Backcountry Campsite
- The Pear Creek site is located 6.4 miles from Finch Lake Trailhead, or 7.1 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,550'. There are 3 individual sites and no privy. The campsites at Pear Creek are located .25 miles below Pear Lake. The sites are on the south (left) side of the trail after it crosses the Pear Creek in a heavily timbered area. Campsites at Pear Creek offer somewhat more weather protection than those at Pear Lake. Obtain water from Pear Creek.
Pear Lake Backcountry Campsite
- The Pear Lake site is located 6.6 miles from Finch Lake Trailhead, or 7.3 miles from Wild Basin Trailhead at 10,582'. There is 1 individual site and no privy. The site is located just below treeline at the base of Copeland Mountain in a spruce- fir forest. Cross Pear Creek on a plank to reach the site on the north side of the lake. Obtain water from Pear Lake or its outlet.
- Wood signs mark backcountry campsite access spurs, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or adequately treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited.
- Fishing is permitted in Finch Lake, Pear Lake and all related tributaries with a valid Colorado fishing license. Contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife or Rocky Mountain National Park to learn more about special restrictions that apply to greenback cutthroat trout.
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.
Directions to Trailhead
The Finch Lake Trailhead is located 2.2 miles west of the turnoff from Highway 7 between the towns of Allenspark and Estes Park.
From Estes Park, Colorado, head south for 11 miles on Highway 7 to the Wild Basin Trailhead on your right hand side. Turn right on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The Finch Lake Trailhead is located 1.7 miles from the entrance station on the left-hand side of the road.
From Boulder, take 36 north for 14 miles to the town of Lyons. Remain on 36 to the Highway 7 intersection. Turn left onto Highway 7 heading towards Allenspark. Remain on Highway 7 and look for the Wild Basin Trailhead entrance on the left. Turn left on the dirt road to the entrance station .15 miles ahead. The Finch Lake Trailhead is located 1.8 miles from the entrance station on the left-hand side of the road.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397