- Date hiked: 10/11/2020
- Hiked from: East Inlet Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 10 miles – 1 way
- Total elevation gain: 2,500 ft
- Maintained trail: No. The real off trail hike begins after passing Fourth Lake
- Overall Difficulty: 9/10 – Very long hike to reach Fifth Lake. Lots of downed trees.
- Overall Views: 9/10 – Tucked up in the East Inlet, views of Isolation Peak, Boulder Grand Pass, The Cleaver
Video of our Day-Hike to Fifth Lake
Fifth Lake is one of the most spectacular lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s extremely difficult to reach as a day-hike, and the hardest part will be endurance. We found that route finding isn’t that difficult, but could see how someone could miss it if they didn’t research the route prior. GPS devices, a map, compass, and knowledge of peaks in the area will help reach this lake.
At an elevation of 10,860 feet, this is the final lake sitting at the base of the East Inlet drainage. The East Inlet begins at Isolation Peak (13,144′), and the lake lies at the bottom base of this jagged peak.
Getting to Fifth Lake
You can see the route that we took to reach Fifth Lake here. From the East Inlet Trailhead located near Grand Lake, Colorado, follow the maintained trail to Lake Verna. Continue on the unimproved trail past Spirit Lake and Fourth Lake.
Just make sure that you stay somewhat near the East Inlet. The faint trail past Fourth Lake will want to lead you towards the Boulder-Grand pass. Cairns may provide help but honestly I rarely pay attention to them as they may not always lead to where you want to go. About 1/2 mile past Fourth lake you will want to cross the East Inlet creek and stay on the west side of it. You will see remnants of a faint trail come in and out as you make the extremely steep ascent up to Fifth Lake.
Photographing Fifth Lake
The shore of Fifth Lake is rocky with small trees. The shallow lake seemed sandy. Early fall most of the snow melt was gone on from the East Inlet. Although there were some frozen sections that may stay that way for another year or so. If you are one of the few that make the long hike to this remote alpine mountain lake, make sure you have a wide angle camera. Even with a full frame 24mm lens I was unable to get the full width of the lake and mountainscape without merging photos.
I’m glad we were able to make it but didn’t get much time to photograph the lake. Snow started pouring down upon our arrival. Our trip was short but we were still able to explore around the lake for 20 minutes or so.