The trail to Cub Lake goes over the Big Thompson River and along the edge of Moraine Park, an ancient glacial meadow surrounded by moraines.
The best time to go is in the fall, when the leaves on the aspens, ponderosa, spruce and ivy turn to vibrant orange, reds and yellows. Large elk herds are also easy to spot this time of year. If you’re lucky, you may see their annual rut, a mating ritual in which the bulls battle for females.
The hike is also great for spotting other wildlife. Squirrels, voles and rabbits attract predators such as coyote, foxes and bobcats, and bears can be spotted searching for late summer berries before winter hibernation.
The area around Cub Lake is marshy and ringed with trees. From the base of the lake, you can see Stones Peak in the distance. For a good aerial view, continue along the main trail toward the Mill Creek Trail Junction.
Distance: 4.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Change: 643 feet
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Duration: 4 hours
Best Time to Go: September–October when the leaves are changing
How to get there:
Fly into the Denver airport, rent a car and head out to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station in Rocky Mountain National Park. The GPS coordinates for the Cub Lake Trailhead are N40 21.373 W105 36.949. For more detailed directions, check out this map or visit the National Park Service website.