Hike Around Sprague Lake
This was the first hike we did on our (second) trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We arrived the day before and set up camp, and took the evening easy to adapt to the elevation and just get some rest after a day of travel. We camped at Glacier Basin Campground, which is right down the road from this hike (actually, you can hike to the lake from the camp).
We popped out of our icy tent the next morning and tried to warm up - it can be cold and icy in this park, even at the end of May! Sprague Lake was going to be our "warm up" hike - see how our bodies handled the elevation with some movement. I'm still coming off of a bad leg injury, so traveling and cold weather both tend to make things hurt a bit more.
This very short hike on a hard packed track, with no elevation gain, was a good warm up. Advertised as a half mile hike, the trail actually takes closer to .8 miles to complete. The hike starts from a large parking area with restrooms. The trail starts at a little wooden bridge, and is a very easy to follow and easy to do walk. The trail wanders around the edge of the lake and let's you see the surroundings from each side. Green grasses and tall trees provide color and shade on portions. Other portions are wide open, so don't forget the sunscreen. (It's true, the sun is brighter at 8,700 feet!)
About halfway through the trail, you'll be presented with beautiful mountains in the distance - and on our trip, they were snow covered and just majestic. The reflection in the lake added to the beautiful scene.
Despite the short and easy nature of this hike, we'd recommend you give it a bit of your time and go take in the views. For being so easy to access, just about anyone can do this trail and see some beautiful mountain views. There are several benches and resting spots around the lake to sit and take in the views.
Sprague Lake is a 13-acre lake that was named after Abner Sprague, an early resident of Estes Park who ran a resort lodge at this location. He dammed a stream to create better trout fishing for his guests. Rocky Mountain National Park was created later (1915), and took over the land (1932). The hotel, which no longer exists, stood near where the parking lot is now located. Abner Sprague would eventually (in 1939) become the first visitor to pay the entrance fee for RMNP.
- Trail Distance: 0.8 miles loop
- Elevation Gain: +/- 10 feet
- Time to Complete: +/- 30 minutes
- Panoramic views, reflections in the lake, and maybe even some fish and chipmunks!