Sprague Lake Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 80517

Distance0.7mi
Elevation Gain136ft
Trailhead Elevation8,690ft
Top8,721ft
Elevation Min/Max8686/8721ft
Elevation Start/End8690/8690ft

Sprague Lake Trail

Sprague Lake Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 0.7 miles long and begins at 8,690 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 136 feet. Near the trailhead there is a waste disposal. Along the trail there is an information guidepost.

Sprague Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Abner Sprague made a fishing lake for the benefit of his tourist lodge and its guests that is one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see. An easy, flat gravel path rings historic Sprague Lake, creating one of the most accessible hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park."

"Sprague Lake, placid and gentle amidst the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains, offers quiet waterside rambling for all comers, including families and those who are wheelchair-bound. This wide, handicapped-accessible path encircles the small lake, passing through its verdant wetlands and the surrounding open woodlands.

Fishermen find the shallow waters of the lake very attractive, and the sound of whizzing fly rods often mingles with the lapping of water against the shores. A series of benches offers respite from which hikers can savor views of Hallett Peak and its sisters. A large picnic ground is beside the parking lot just west of the lake; this also is where you'll find the restrooms. In addition, a spur trail leads from the lake to a handicapped-accessible campsite."

"Unlike most other lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague is of human construction. Still, it provides abundant natural pleasures to the many park visitors who circumnavigate the lake on a flat trail. The National Park Service traded the land on which Sprague Lake and Sprague Lodge sat for the land containing Mills Lake and The Loch, which Sprague owned but had refused to develop as cabin sites. He thus preserved as wilderness the heart of hiking territory in what would become the national park.

Eventually the park service bought back Abner Sprague’s lodge and lake. The lodge was torn down in 1958. The 13-acre lake remains, a reminder of Sprague’s deep familiarity with where the park’s scenic potential was greatest. Walking clockwise around the lake presents the best series of mountain vistas. From the eastern shore, glacier deposited rocks, bending water grasses, and conifers form foreground for a photo of the Front Range left to right, with Taylor, Otis, and Hallett Peaks and Flattop and Notchtop Mountains (the latter partly hidden by forest) hopefully reflected in the lake. Heading counterclockwise is the easiest route to wheelchair-accessible backcountry campsites."

"The 0.7-mile trail around Sprague Lake is nearly flat and very easy to walk. It provides many opportunities for photography, especially early in the morning. Gray jays, Steller’s jays, and sometimes Clark’s nutcrackers hang around the picnic area at the parking lot,
waiting to steal unguarded morsels. Try to photograph these birds in the low branches that serve as their lookout points, giving a much nicer background than a picnic bench or the scantily vegetated ground.

Walking around the lake provides at least two good perspectives of Otis Peak, Hallett Peak, and Flattop Mountain in the Front Range. The chances for reflections of the mountains on a still lake surface are excellent early in the day. The first good spot, if you begin walking left on the north side, is in a sheltered cove where a stream exits the thirteen-acre lake. Pines form a dark-shadowed frame for the mountains, the silhouetted needles filling empty sky with interesting shapes and directing the eye to the
mountains."

"From 1910 to 1940, the Sprague Lake area was used as a resort owned by Abner and Alberta Sprague. Just before the inception of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915, the Spragues dammed the far end of the lake to make it bigger and create better fishing for guests. Today, this lake is a starting point for a number of trails and offers a half-mile, wheelchair-accessible hike around the lake. We chose this popular area as a perfect introduction to snowshoeing, or those snowshoeing with young ones along.

The path follows the shores of the lake with breathtaking views of the Continental Divide, into a quiet and soft landscape of snow-covered pines and iced-over creeks, and finishes through a long corridor of lodgepole pine. It is a popular area, but when compared to its busy neighbor, Bear Lake, it will feel like a nice retreat from the crowds."

"More than a century ago, homesteader Abner Sprague built a dam across a stream to form the pond we now call Sprague Lake. While trout fishing here, he undoubtedly enjoyed the views of the Continental Divide, as do countless visitors now on this fully accessible trail.

For little ones, Sprague Lake’s first attraction is the resident ducklings paddling around their mothers. Father ducks are the ones with a showy green head atop a white collar, commonly seen during the spring nesting season. When the ducks dip their heads into the water, their long, specially adapted tongues strain food (insects, tiny bits of plants, seeds, and fish eggs) from the mud. Following the trail around the lake’s north shore, point out charred tree stumps in the adjacent forest, remnants of the fire of 1900. Today’s forest and undergrowth reveal the life-renewing quality that fires bring to the soil. The hearty ponderosa pine trees here survived thanks to their thick bark. Look for knots in a tree to show the bark’s thickness. Aspens are newcomers in a forest, the first trees to sprout from their already established roots after a fire has cleared an area."

Sprague Lake Trail Reviews

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7/1/2010
Wonderful views that anyone can enjoy on this handicap accessible trail around the lake.
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7/26/2009
Easy walk for families. Quite beautiful and good views of surrounding mountains. Not crowded. Lots of fisherman and chipmunks. Places to picnic. Parking lot has bathrooms.
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8/18/2008
This is a great hike with kids. Its flat and would be easy with a stroller. My two-year-old walked all the way around, although he whined a bit. It is pretty crowded, including the lake which had a couple dozen fly-fisherman in it. Still fun!
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7/19/2008
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1/6/2008
Very nice trail system mostly in the woods, which means less wind. Mountain lion tracks seen.
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6/19/2005
This is an easy trail, best suited for the handicapped or young children. Mostly flat gravel paths follow the shoreline. A still giant framed by tall peaks!
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Trail Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Nearby City
Rocky Mountain National Park
Parks
Kid-friendly, Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
For current conditions and more information, contact Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, www.nps.gov/romo or (970) 586-1206
Local Contacts
Rocky Mountain National Park brochure
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018