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Ouzel Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

September 2, 2004

Ouzel Lake Hike
Round-trip distance: 9.8 miles

It had been too long since my last hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lee, Ben, Tracy and I decided to assuage the RMNP hiking drought with a trip to a section of the park none of us had been to before today: Wild Basin.

We followed a nice dirt path from the Wild Basin Trailhead and at 0.3 mile found ourselves at the unimpressive Copeland Falls. The trail followed the St Vain Creek until finally crossing it on a sturdy wooden bridge. After 1.8 miles and 700 vertical feet of hiking, we arrived at the rolling Calypso Cascades. We stopped to take some pictures here, then continued across the bridge.

Ouzel Falls was the next landmark we encountered, and what a beauty! I climbed the steep rock to the left of the falls and took some pictures from above. Then I followed a semi-trail around the cliff to return to the bottom and take some more photographs from below. I met up with Lee, Tracy and Ben again, and we decided to go on out to Ouzel Lake.

Along most of this hike we had great views of Mount Meeker and Longs Peak, to the north, along with many other jagged summits to our west, forming the Continental Divide. Tree color was minimal, as it was still too early in September, but we could tell the aspens and a few maples were trying to change.

Wildlife, too, was minimal, but it is not hard to imagine why. First of all, we weren’t being that quiet, and there were a good many hikers on the trail besides us. It was turning out to be a very warm day, and we hadn’t started hiking until after 8 o’clock. And, in this section of the trail, we found ourselves atop a ridge which had been completely burned off some time ago. Therefore we were in the wide open sun. Granted, this did allow even better views of some of the astounding peaks of the park.

Eventually we came to a juncture in the trail and took the left fork, which led a half mile along the creek to Ouzel Lake. This was a pleasant portion of our journey, following a nice, flat trail through the forest and beside a rumbling creek.

It was about 11:30 when we arrived at the lake, nestled next to Copeland Mountain. We rested for probably an hour, talking and eating as we sat watching a fly fisherman in the distance, wading in the shallow (but undoubtedly cold) lake.

On the return trip, we accidentally got off track at a campground not far from Ouzel Lake. This unintended detour actually led us to another neat place: a rather large lily pond, also worthy of a picture or two.

We made it out of the mountain by 2 o’clock, having completed a delightful 9.8 mile hike in the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park.