Lone Pine Lake, East Inlet Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Lone Pine Lake - 10.8 miles

East Inlet Trailhead

Lone Pine Lake

Lone Pine Lake

Round-Trip Length: 10.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,391' - 9,885' (9,902' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,494' net elevation gain (+1,915' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lone Pine Lake - 10.8 Miles Round-Trip

Lone Pine Lake is located 5.4 miles from East Inlet Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This diverse trail features large meadows, excellent fishing and active wildlife. The East Inlet Trail continues on to Lake Verna, Spirit Lake, Fourth Lake, Fifth Lake and Boulder-Grand Pass, which crosses the Continental Divide to Thunder Lake on the east side of the Park:

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail passes spurs for Adams Falls (.27 miles) and levels along the north edge of East Meadow, an open expanse cut by slow moving oxbows on the East Inlet.

This is a popular destination for anglers, and great place to see moose. Enjoy good views and wildflowers on this fast-moving stretch.

The trail enters a thinned-out lodgepole forest to Lower East Inlet backcountry campsite (2.35 miles : 8,685’), where grades steepen on rugged terrain up the valley’s north wall. It crests at 3.45 miles (9,220’) and drops to the creek, where healthier fir trees appear and soften the aesthetic loss from pervasive beetle kill.

The trail eases by a slow section of water before rising away to the Cats Lair backcountry campsite (3.8 miles : 9,210’). It edges back to the creek and undulates to a bridge over to the south side of East Inlet (4.35 miles : 9,405’), just past which are a series of powerful cascades. This is a good turnaround point if not aiming for the lakes.

The trail steepens away from the creek on a rocky-rooted path to the Gray Jay Group campsite (5.05 miles : 9,805’), then crosses a debris field created by a recent avalanche. The NPS has done a great job making it passable, but expect fallen trees and vague spots on this short segment.

Travel moderates on the final run to Lone Pine Lake (5.4 miles : 9,885’), with multiple access points to its open perimeter. Look for moose in the vicinity, which are drawn to the marshy basin’s willow and aquatic plants.

Continue a short distance past Lone Pine to see its kinetic inlet, and up switchbacks beside the falls to open rock slabs with terrific views over the lake. Social trails on Lone Pine's west shore have partial views up-valley of Andrews Peak (12,565'), Mt Alice (13,310'), Boulder Grand Pass (12,061'), Isolation Peak (13,118') and Mt Craig (12,007').

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 14.358 W105 47.991 — 0.0 miles : East Inlet Trailhead
  • N40 14.241 W105 47.621 — .5 miles : Trail skirts large meadow
  • N40 14.262 W105 47.159 — 1.2 miles : East Meadow backcountry campsite
  • N40 14.160 W105 46.383 — 2.0 miles : Trail re-enters forest
  • N40 14.078 W105 46.112 — 2.35 miles : Lower East Inlet backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.664 W105 45.328 — 3.45 miles : Trail crests and drops to creek
  • N40 13.630 W105 45.064 — 3.75 miles : Cats Lair backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.576 W105 44.569 — 4.35 miles : Cross bridge and begin travel on south side of creek
  • N40 13.828 W105 44.179 — 5.05 miles : Gray Jay backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.877 W105 43.968 — 5.4 miles : Lone Pine Lake
  • N40 13.990 W105 43.641 — 5.7 miles : Slick Rock backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.886 W105 43.558 — 6.0 miles : Solitaire backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.720 W105 42.956 — 6.6 miles : Upper East Inlet backcountry campsite
  • N40 13.663 W105 42.653 — 6.9 miles : Lake Verna | begin unimproved travel

Worth Noting

  • Moose are frequently seen on the East Inlet Trail. Look for moose browsing in marshy meadows in the early morning, and in dark timber later in the day as temperatures rise. Keep a safe, respectful distance from wildlife.
  • Mosquitoes can be a nuisance on the East Inlet corridor. Long sleeves and repellant are highly recommended.
  • Lake Verna is 1.5 miles from Lone Pine Lake, and Spirit Lake is 1.0 miles further on an unimproved trail from Verna. The unimproved trail can be difficult to follow, especially with lingering snow.
  • The East Inlet Trail has 8 backcountry campsites between the trailhead and Lake Verna that fill up quickly throughout the summer. Advance reservations are necessary.
  • Contact the ranger station for fishing rules and regulations. A Colorado fishing license is required. Rules are strictly enforced.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • 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. Contact the Backcountry Office for details: 970.586.1242.

  • Reservations may be secured by mail or in person anytime after March 1 for a permit to be used in that calendar year. Phone reservations are accepted from March 1 - May 15, and anytime after October 1 for a permit in that calendar year.

  • Camping is permitted in designated sites only. Fires are not permitted. Gas stoves only.

  • Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red flags on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted along the East Inlet and at each lake with a valid Colorado fishing license. Specific rules may apply to each lake and various sections of the East Inlet. Consult the RMNP backcountry office for the latest rules and regulations.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $20 fee to enter Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Camping is not permitted at Lone Pine Lake.

Directions to Trailhead

The East Inlet Trailhead is located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park on the east side of Grand Lake. The trailhead is 2.35 miles east of Highway 34 on West Portal Road.

From Highway 34, turnoff for Grand Lake on Highway 278 / West Portal Road. Remain on West Portal Road 2.35 miles to the East Inlet Trailhead, just across from the boat launch on Grand Lake.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:

Backcountry Office:

Campground Reservations:

Emergency Dispatch:

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Great Hike. There are some snowy patches as your traverse next to the meadows and once you get up past Cat's Lair campsite it's pretty much constant snow. I had no special equipment and was actually (embarassing enough) well underdressed in sneakers and jeans. Made it all the way up to Gray Jay campsite before the trail got hard to follow and the snow was hard to traverse (post holing). With some snowshoes it wouldn't be hard to make it the rest of the way. Had a very warm spring and little snowfall this year which probably made it more accessible than years past."
Sarah Brunetto  -  United States  -  Date Posted: April 7, 2015
"Hiking this trail is one of the best memories of my life. I hiked this trail with a dozen other people. We hiked in and set up camp at Gray Jay campground located just a short walk from Lone Pine Lake. The first stretch of the hike was a little buggy in the marshy areas, but not annoyingly so. Once we set up camp, it was starting to get dark so we just made dinner and slept early to prep for an early hike the next day. The trail was well maintained along the north side of Verna but was much narrower and overgrown past that heading toward 4th and 5th. The first day we spent just lounging around Verna. The second day we woke early again for a longer hike toward the continental divide. Following the stream East just beyond 4th, you get to a point where you exit the trees and in front of us was one of the most spectacular views I'd ever seen. It felt like what I imagine heaven looking like. Moose crossing the stream through the tall grass, with a background of an avalanche chute straight ahead and Isolation peak to the South. Patches of snow linger, arching over the bubbling stream. Wildflowers of many colors are in abundance. Clear blue sky and lots of sunshine. This is a hike that I will take again after my wedding with my new bride. It is the most beautiful place I've ever been. A word of advice though. As tempting as it may be, do not scramble up the avalanche chute in an attempt to reach the divide. A couple of my more adventurous friends and I tried and found ourselves in a tight spot with NO equipment. It was scary and pointless, as walking up through the woods to the north would make for a much more gradual and do-able hike up to the divide. We never did take the hike up to 5th but I will the next time I go, just to get closer to Isolation Peak. I love this trail, it was fairly easy even for the newbies we had in our group. Can't recommend it highly enough."
Doug  -  Urbana, IL  -  Date Posted: December 12, 2013


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