Moraine Park Valley: A verdant prairie cut by meandering streams that is characterized by the alluring sunrise to the east and the snow-capped Rockies to the west.
This area is home to the Moraine Park Loop trail and is a great place for anglers hoping to land a fish. Visitors can access through the Beaver Meadows Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. If you don’t have a season pass or day reservation, you’ll need to jump in early in the day and get through the gates by 5:00 a.m., so for those who don’t fancy waking up before the rooster crows, it is advisable to plan ahead.
The loop trail is accessible from Fern Lake Road, but if you’re a bit isolated, you can find a parking area at the end of South Moraine Road. For those looking to fish, Fern Lake Road offers great access to Fern Creek, while the latter route will run into you at the Big Thompson River.
These coves contain brown, cutthroat and speckled trout, but it can be difficult to find success for those inexperienced in open field fishing. Shadows are easily visible on bare floors, which can probably scare fish away. The Big Thompson is narrow and runs out at the end of the prairie, but Fern Creek leaves more room to work and continues into wooded areas for those who want to go deeper into the dirt road.
As mentioned earlier, if you want to hike the trail in a loop, the parking lot on Fern Lake Road and South Moraine Road will give you direct access. The trail is nearly five and a half miles of flat terrain that will give way to views of grasslands frequented by elk, mule deer, black bears, and many other wildlife creatures.
Since the trail puts you at the base of the Rockies rather than directly in the high mountain scenery, it serves as a safe haven away from the crowds of wondering tourists who frequent the park’s most popular sights during the summer months.
If you’re an adventurer who loves sites off the beaten path, this area also has some suitable features in store for you.
At the end of the meadow are rows of itinerant boulders, each bigger than the next. On the South Moraine Road trail side, you can leave the flat terrain and climb the rocks. Since there are hardly any clear trails on this route, it is wise to navigate this area with a partner due to the risky climbs and steep drop-offs between the rocks.
Once you’ve worked on these platforms, you’ll be greeted with a wide view of the prairie you previously walked through and a clear view of the Rocky Mountains that you can’t get from the loop path.
On the patches of grass on these rocks are clusters of pinkish-purple daisies and musk thistles that make the trip all the more rewarding. A glimpse of the wildlife lurking beneath you also doesn’t hurt to make the trip worthwhile.
For anyone looking to find an effortless hike or a daring rock-scale adventure, Moraine Park Valley has all the essentials for you.