5 Best Backcountry Fly Fishing Lakes in Estes Park
There are many opportunities to get away from the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and experience world class fly fishing in the remote wilderness of the popular RMNP that surrounds the small town of Estes Park. Below is a list of our top lakes in the park for fly fishing. All of these locations require the angler to put in some hiking effort to reach them, but you will be rewarded with some of the best fishing in the United States. For those new to fly fishing or looking for a local outfit to take them into the backcountry and provide all the necessary gear, please check out the backcountry fishing trips spanning from 1-5 days.
#1. Spruce Lake
This gem of a lake is reached from the Fern Lake trailhead. Reaching the lake requires a 4.5 mile hike (9 miles round trip), the distances and efforts required to reach this lake keep may anglers away. If you are looking to check off catching the prized Native Greenback Cutthroat trout this is a great opportunity, as the Park is one of the last strongholds for this endangered species of cutthroat trout. Trout in this lake are 8-12” and readily take a dry fly. The inlets and outlets are great locations to fish on the lake, as well as the large rock outcropping on the Southwest corner. Catch and release of all is required. If you are up for a real adventure you can continue on to Loomis Lake, the trail fades here but you can follow the inlet stream through the forest to Loomis Lake about a quarter mile from Spruce. The Greenbacks in Loomis tend to be a little bigger.
#2. Arrowhead Lake
This legendary high alpine lake is home to the biggest trout in the park, and even more surprising they are all large Greenback Cutthroat in the 12-22” range. Reaching this lake requires some good navigation and map skills, as you need to go off trail to reach this destination. There are a few different ways to access the lake, but the best approach is to park at Milner Pass the trailhead for Mt. Ida accessed via the amazing Trail Ridge Road.
The trail is a 14 mile trek along the Continental divide, much of the way you walk along the trail to Mount Ida, before reaching the summit you will drop down into the valley to your left (Northeast) direction, and pick your way down to the lake. The trip takes around 3.5 hours to reach so you will want to allow a full day and calculate in some fishing time accordingly.
#3. Haynach Lakes
Located in a remote valley on the uncrowded western slope of Rocky Mountain National Park Haynach lakes boast epic fishing, camping and wildlife viewing opportunities. On your way to the lakes you will cross two different trout filled streams that flow out of the Haynach valley, Tonahutu Creek and the Haynach Creek, which hold either wild brook trout or Colorado River cutthroat trout. Upon reaching the lakes (7.3 miles one way from the trailhead) you will have ample opportunities to catch large Colorado River cutthroat in the picturesque valley. As an added bonus moose often frequent this part of the park. On our trips we pack in all of the necessary overnight camping gear making for an amazing 3 day fly fishing adventure.
#4. Sky Pond
This high alpine lake is situated off the beaten track in the wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park. Loaded with eager Brook trout in the 8-12” range this will please both the angler and hiker, with its world class scenery and fishing. The 9 miles round trip hike to the lake starts at Glacier Gorge Trailhead and passes numerous waterfalls, rivers and lakes. Bonus: You can also catch brookies and greenbacks in the Lake of Glass (which you will pass just before reaching Sky Pond, but it is well worth the extra efforts to reach Sky Pond.
#5. Fern Lake
Situated in the heart of Moraine Park, Fern Lake is an easily accessible backcountry lake that promises a rewarding fly fishing experience. The trailhead can be found at Moraine Park, and while it is a popular destination, the lake's sheer size allows for plenty of angling spots. Brook trout and rainbow trout are abundant here, and the serene landscape provides an ideal setting for relaxation and reconnection with nature.
We book and arrange full service hike in fishing trips and multi day remote fishing trips in Rocky Mountain NP, for full details click the link HERE.
Tips for a Memorable Fly Fishing Trip
- Obtain the required entry permits and licenses for fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Respect nature and practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the pristine wilderness.
- Check the park's regulations and seasonal closures before planning your trip.
- Pack appropriate gear, including a rod, waders, and a selection of flies suitable for the lake's fish species.
- Be prepared for unpredictable weather and sudden changes in mountain conditions.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers a fly fishing experience like no other. The backcountry lakes tucked away amidst the towering peaks provide a peaceful retreat for anglers seeking to connect with nature and challenge their fishing skills. From the enchanting Sky Pond to the reflective Mirror Lake, these hidden gems beckon adventurers to explore their shores and immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies while creating unforgettable memories along the way. So, grab your fishing gear, leave the hustle behind, and embark on a fly fishing journey to remember in Rocky Mountain National Park.