The Pool

Estes Park, Colorado 80511

The Pool

The Pool Professional Review and Guide

"The trail to The Pool is as flat as any trail is likely to be in this national park, following the Big Thompson River upstream to a point where it shoots between rock buttresses and then slows in a broad pool.

This pool is very different from a home swimming pool. If you jump (or fall) into The Pool, the odds are high that you will hit a rock. If the rock does not kill you, it might conspire with water that was snow the previous day to incapacitate you and then drown you. It has happened before, not far downstream in Moraine Park.This pool is where the Big Thompson River flows between rock buttresses in a narrower space than the river normally occupies. Because the same amount of water has to pass through less space, it must flow faster. The increased pressure from compression of the stream dissipates beyond the squeeze point at the bridge, and the speed slows in a broader spot downstream called The Pool."

More The Pool Professional Reviews and Guides

"The first 2 miles of the Fern Lake Trail follow whitewater on an easy grade along the Big Thompson River to a quiet spot below a timber bridge buttressed by granite outcrops."

The Pool Reviews

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We had a blast on this trail. The first portion, up to The Pool, was a great hiking warm up as it followed the river through the valley. After The Pool (a great place to break for water and snacks) the trail climbs pretty steadily upwards, some places reaching a moderate incline. We are new to Colorado (moved here from sea level) and had to break several times to allow our lungs to catch up with the altitude. Luckily this trail is not short of beautiful views. We also saw an abundance of wildlife. Chipmunks life around The Pool and we saw a Stellar's Jay at Fern Falls, elk, moose, and a hawk catch his breakfast. The trail continues past the falls up to the Lake, but because of time we stopped at the falls and turned around. Plenty of slush and snow still in June after about 8700 ft. and there's plenty of runoff so make sure to wear some shoes that can get dirty, muddy, and wet.
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A great trail - but a bit snowy and slushy this early in the Spring. I recommend it later in Spring or Summer so you can fully enjoy the greenery of the raparian area.

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Trail Information

Estes Park
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
3 hours
8,155 feet
Trailhead Elevation
8,320 feet
Top Elevation
Rocky Mountain National Park Backcountry Office, 1000 US 36, Estes Park 80517; (970) 586-1242; www/
Local Contacts
USGS McHenrys Peak; Trails Illustrated Longs Peak
Local Maps