This was definitely the best snowshoeing trip of the year so far, and not just because it’s the first one where I actually put on my snowshoes. The trailhead and hike are all in Rocky Mountain National Park, accessed from the Wild Basin. This would normally require a park pass or $20 day-pass, but the Wild Basin entrance station was closed. I’m not sure if that’s normal, I couldn’t find anything online indicating entrance should be free, but it looked like the ranger station had been closed all winter.
The start of the 11 mile round trip hike was a surprisingly full parking lot, given our 9am arrival. A number of trails leave from the winter parking lot and I suspect some cars were overnight campers there from the night before. We only saw a single pair of people during our entire trip and we were the first tracks on the entire trail. An alternative entrance to the trail and park uses the Allenspark Trailhead. We didn’t use that route but I may in the future as I’ve seen it suggested as a less crowded alternative and it shaves about a mile off the route.
The hike itself starts with a half mile walk down the closed road to get from winter parking to the trailhead. The first mile or so of the trail ascends quickly before a sharp switchback as you crest onto more level walking. The trail runs through a great variety of tree cover from open areas filled with aspens to very dense sections surrounded by softwood. The hike does make its way through the Ouzel burn area which is quite exposed making me wish I’d brought goggles.
The hike is mostly a slight uphill right until you drop steeply down toward the lake during the last 1/2 mile. There wasn’t much to see once we got to the lake. The wind and snow was surging down the valley and across the open lake. We had to get a few quick peeks between gusts before turning around and finding somewhere with a bit more shelter to eat our lunch.
I think this would be an excellent summer hike. Without the snow, reaching Pear Lake would be a lot easier and the opportunities for camping/fishing in the area are really intriguing especially further west.