Lawn Lake, Lawn Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lawn Lake - 12.5 miles
Lawn Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||12.5 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,540' - 10,987' (11,019' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,447' net elevation gain (2,558' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Lawn Lake - 12.5 Miles Round-Trip
Lawn Lake is located 6.25 miles from Lawn Lake Trailhead in the Mummy Range of Rocky Mountain National Park. It fills a wide, flat basin at treeline ringed by Fairchild Mountain (13,502'), Hagues Peak (13,560') and Mummy Mountain (13,425').
This notably large lake offers exceptional fishing and numerous backcountry sites. The long but moderate hike closely follows Roaring River much of the way, highlighted by diverse forests and abundant wildlife:
The Lawn Lake Trail climbs 534' to the level east bank of Roaring River with good views over Horseshoe Park on the ascent (1.0 mile : 9,074'). It turns north upstream to the Ypsilon Lake Trail split (1.4 miles : 9,170'), a shorter but comparably challenging alternative to Lawn Lake.
The trail rises steadily through intervals of lodgepole, fir and aspen to the split for a trio of backcountry campsites on the west bank of Roaring River (2.75 miles : 9,605'). This designated crossing provides safe river access for anglers.
The trail keeps a moderate pace through heavy timber before emerging in a wide flat (5.25 miles : 10,690') with good views north of Mummy Mountain (13,425').
It passes the Black Canyon Trail split (5.65 miles : 10,807') and climbs into a band of old-growth spruce (6.0 miles), emerging from thinning timber on the south shore of Lawn Lake (6.25 miles : 10,987'). No horses are permitted beyond this point.
Lawn Lake is one of Rocky Mountain National Park's largest subalpine lakes. Its perimeter is long, flat and easy to explore. Mummy Mountain looms east, while Fairchild Mountain (13,502') and Hagues Peak (13,560') stand north of an unnamed 12,541' peak directly over Lawn Lake's west shore.
The main trail continues on to Crystal Lakes and 'The Saddle', a 12,398' pass between Fairchild Mountain and Hagues Peak.
Lawn Lake was once dammed. On July 15, 1982 its 26' high earthen dam failed, releasing 674 acre-feet (219,724,000 gallons) of water at an estimated peak discharge rate of 18,000 cubic feet (134,640 gallons) per second down the Roaring River valley. Three people were killed and damages totaled $31 million.
As a result, sections of the Roaring River's high banks are unstable and prone to sudden collapse. Lawn Lake's south shoreline still bears the scars of this catastrophic event, though nature is rapidly reclaiming it.
- N40 24.439 W105 37.564 — 0.0 miles : Lawn Lake Trailhead
- N40 24.648 W105 37.722 — .55 miles : Steady climb over Horseshoe Park
- N40 24.911 W105 38.013 — 1.0 miles : Level out on high bank over Fall River
- N40 25.203 W105 38.085 — 1.4 miles : Ypsilon Lake Trail split
- N40 25.644 W105 38.398 — 2.0 miles : Fast travel on level bank
- N40 26.023 W105 38.102 — 2.75 miles : Backcounrty campsite spur
- N40 26.276 W105 37.690 — 3.5 miles : Moderate rise in diverse forest
- N40 26.603 W105 37.572 — 4.0 miles : Cross 10,000'; forest comp changes
- N40 26.969 W105 37.642 — 4.5 miles : Emerging views of surrounding peaks
- N40 27.168 W105 37.481 — 5.0 miles : Transition to spruce-fir forest
- N40 27.652 W105 37.290 — 5.65 miles : Black Canyon Trail split
- N40 27.754 W105 37.514 — 6.0 miles : Patchy forest and high point over lake
- N40 27.888 W105 37.708 — 6.25 miles : Lawn Lake
- N40 28.215 W105 37.944 — 6.75 miles : Rugged travel on north side of lake
- N40 28.295 W105 38.153 — 7.0 miles : Grades steepens through treeline
- N40 28.396 W105 38.388 — 7.35 miles : Crystal Lake - The Saddle split
- N40 28.368 W105 38.745 — 7.75 miles : Crystal Lake #1
- N40 28.254 W105 38.810 — 7.95 miles : Crystal Lake #2
- N40 28.803 W105 39.413 — The Saddle
- Autumn travelers stand a good chance of seeing elk in the Horseshoe Park area; winter visitors may see bighorn sheep that come down for salt licks in the vicinity.
- Aspen and leafy vegetation along the river bank yield brilliant autumn colors. Late summer berries and mushrooms attract bear to this travel corridor.
- The Roaring River's high banks are unstable and prone to slides and collapse; steer clear of its edges.
- Be mindful of changing weather patterns and get below treeline before storms develop.
- There's a Ranger Patrol Cabin at Lawn Lake.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Permits are required for all overnight stays. 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 flags on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail: The Ypsilon Creek, Cutbank and Golden Banner sites are located on the west bank of Roaring River. A spur from the Lawn Lake Trail (2.9 miles, +1092') crosses the river and forks with access to each:
- Cutbank Backcountry Camspite
- The Cutbank site is located 2.6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,620'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from Roaring River.
- Ypsilon Creek Backcountry Campsite
- The Ypsilon Creek site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,560'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest above the confluence of Ypsilon Creek and Roaring River on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from both sources.
- Golden Banner Backcountry Campsite
- The Golden Banner site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,600'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River (.3 miles north of the river crossing). Water is available from Roaring River.
- Lawn Lake Backcountry Campsite
- The Lawn Lake site is located 6.2 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 10,987'. There are 4 individual sites and a llama-stock site, each with access to a privy. The sites are located in a spruce-fir forest on the north side of the lake, west of the Patrol Cabin. Water is available from the lake, but ideally taken from the inlet. Lawn Lake was once a man-enlarged lake, but the dam broke in 1982 causing considerable flooding downstream and forming the Alluvial Fan and Fan Lake. The lake now exists at its original level.
- Ypsilon Lake - Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Campsite
- The Upper Chipmunk site is located 4.2 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 10,640'. There are two individual sites and a privy. The sites are located northeast of the Ypsilon Lake trail between Chipmunk Lake and Ypsilon Lake in a dense pine forest. Water is available from the outlet of the pond or from Ypsilon Lake. The water is slow moving and a filter would be helpful in addition to your purification measures.
- Only catch and release fishing is permitted along the Roaring River, Lawn Lake, Crystal Lakes and Ypsilon Lake drainages.
Directions to Trailhead
Lawn Lake Trailhead is located 5.1 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station in Rocky Mountain National Park (2 miles north of Trail Ridge Road on Fall River Road).
From the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, continue west on Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) to Deer Ridge Junction (3 miles).
Turn right at Deer Ridge Junction and drive 1.9 miles to Fall River Road. Turn left on Fall River Road, and then an immediate right into the Lawn Lake Trailhead parking area.
Rocky Mountain National Park