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439 Lawn Lake 2011-07-15

Lawn Lake looking south

In 1978 the earthen dam of Lawn Lake broke and sent a devastating wall of water down the Roaring Creek to Fall River, on through Estes Park and down the Big Thompson River (Hwy 34). Millions of dollars in damage and three lives were lost due to the flooding. It was indeed a tragic event.

We started early on our hike to the lake. It was going to be a thirteen mile round trip. The trailhead for Lawn Lake is located on Hwy 34, near the Fall River Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Continue past the entrance station to the Fall River turnoff and then on to the Lawn Lake Trailhead parking (the first right).

From the trailhead we climbed immediately, through a few switchbacks. The trail seemed to be going away from Roaring Creek instead of closer to it. Finally, after the last switchback (and overlook), the trail contours around the slope of Big Horn Mountain and joins the Roaring Creek. The evidence of the flood was still obvious as we looked down at the creek.


Roaring Creek from Lawn Lake Trail

Roaring Creek

After an overlook, the trail continued to follow the creek toward Lawn Lake. There were sections of switchbacks that helped tame the grade of the trail and took us away from the creek but we soon rejoined it. Along the way there were several more overlooks of the creek but not many access points. The erosion from the flood left steep, sandy banks that would have been hard to ascend or descend - safely.

The clouds appeared early in the day as we approached Lawn Lake. We looked around but the incoming weather was going to cut our visit short. There were llamas tethered near the lake. Amy took a few photos of them eating grass. After a quick lunch, we started the hike back to the trialhead.


Llamas tethered at Lawn Lake

Llama tethered at Lawn Lake

Overall, the hike was an easy grade and the views were great. We thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

A few Lawn Lake Trail tips ...

Privies were available at the trailhead but there was no water.

Water found on the trail should be treated or filtered but it was plentiful from the creeks that crossed the trail ( it has, however, been a very wet summer).

An information kiosk and map were located at the trailhead.

We thought the trail was an easy, but long, hike.

We only saw a few parties of other hikers.

From the shores of Lawn Lake we had outstanding views in all directions.

The Ranger Cabin at Lawn Lake was not obvious. We walked by the cabin on the way up, and then Amy pointed it out on our return.

The hole in the dam (that caused the flooding) was much smaller than we expected.

Happy Lawn Lake trails


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