We started on the trail at Bear Lake around 6:50am. The parking lot at Glacier Gorge had just a few spots left when we drove by it at 6:41 – better get there early if you want to park at Glacier Gorge!
The trail headed up for a half mile toward Flattop Mountain and we turned left at the Bierstadt junction to keep heading up. About a half mile later, we turned right at the next junction to head toward Lake Helene.
We stopped briefly for a photo at Lake Helene before heading down to beautiful Odessa Lake with great views of Notchtop Mountain. Then we continued down the trail to Fern Lake (fairly plain lake surrounded by woods and a ranger cabin), Fern Falls (still flowing quite well even at this time of year), and to the Pool. We turned right at the Pool junction and headed up toward Cub Lake.
We came upon two moose on this trail segment – a cow and calf. They were standing on the trail and just hanging out, so we headed off-trail to make a wide berth around them. We soon reached Cub Lake full of lily-pads, and then went up the steepest section of trail for the day toward Hollowell Park.
We passed 2 backcountry campsites before veering left to see Bierstadt Lake (and a big bull moose in the marsh along the southwest side of the lake), and then continued onto Bear Lake to complete the loop. I’d never seen 3 moose on one hike on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park before, excluding Wild Basin where I once saw a group of 5 bull moose between Ouzel Falls and Ouzel Lake, and 4 moose on a long hike to Coney Lake.
13 miles – 3,248 ft elevation gain – 4 hours 32 minutes (we jogged some of the flats/downhills)