"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." Read more
"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." Read more
"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." Read more
"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." Read more
"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." Read more