Portered Odessa Gorge
- Backcountry trip with light day packs
- Amazing day hikes
- A full day of high country exploration
- Waterfalls, rivers, meadows & lakes
- Camp in glacially-carved Odessa Gorge
- Abundant wildlife habitat
This portered backcountry trip takes us through Fern Canyon to the Odessa Gorge, past a series of mountain lakes to our camp at Odessa Lake, just minutes from treeline. Porters transport our supplies to our campsite and set everything up, allowing us to hike with light day packs while enjoying a thoroughly authentic backcountry experience. On the final day, the porters will break down camp and transport everything back out for us, completing the trip.
Odessa Lake, our home for two nights, is nestled in a rich subalpine spruce/fir forest at 10,020 feet. Above us to the west stand some of the most iconic landmarks in Rocky: Little Matterhorn (11,586), Notchtop (12,129), and Ptarmigan Point (13,363), astride the “backbone of the continent”: The Continental Divide. The combination of rich forest, expansive mountain lakes, and alpine terrain make this a truly remarkable trip that is both awe-inspiring and suitable for families.
Trip Dates & Booking
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
We can often customize dates for groups at no extra cost!
- Shuttle to trailhead: 20 minutes
- Hiking Mileage: 4.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,870 feet
This Rocky Mountain National Park hiking trip starts with a brief shuttle to our trailhead - we’ll hike along the Big Thompson River, with stops at "Arch Rocks" (granite boulders of a reddish -orange and in fantastic shapes) and "The Pool" (a massive whirlpool of churning water) along the way.
After a hearty lunch we’ll continue to the serenade of rushing water as we ascend through the canyon past Fern Lake into the towering beauty of Odessa Gorge and Odessa Lake, our home for two nights.
We’ll arrive at camp fully set, enjoy a great dinner prepared by your guides, and plan for our day of exploration tomorrow.
- Hiking Mileage: 2-6 miles day hiking
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 500-1,100 feet
After a hearty breakfast near the shores of Odessa Lake, we’ll enjoy a full day of exploration - to Lake Helene, Two Rivers Lake, and traversing the high country beneath Flattop Mountain as our interests suggest.
We’ll enjoy lunch en route, and make our way to camp as evening shadows begin to fall from the Continental Divide above us. Prepare for sightings of Rocky Mountain Bighorn, Golden Eagles, Elk and Deer, not to mention the Marmots and Pikas that dance among the rocks above treeline!
The fishing at Odessa is excellent: for anglers, options abound for catch and release trout fishing: rainbow, browns, brook, and the native cutthroat.
Whether taking some time to fish or just relaxing along the Lake, we’ll settle in before dinner, then enjoy our meal together as stars rise in a brilliant sky.
- Hiking Mileage: 4.4 miles
- Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,870+ feet
Day 3 marks our return to the Fern Lake trailhead. After breakfast we’ll settle in to our day packs and enjoy a comfortable walk through Fern Canyon, past Fern Lake once again, on to the Pool and Arch Rock, and from there to the Fern Lake Trailhead and a final hearty lunch together.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.
- Porters to transport gear in and out, and to set up and break down camp
- Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and backpack
- Use of trekking poles
- All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
- A professional, knowledgeable, certified Rocky Mountain hiking guide
- Entrance fees and national park permits
- Transportation for the duration of the trip beginning and ending in Estes Park, CO
- Bear cannisters for food storage
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Clothes, raingear and footwear
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Bear cannisters
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
You will meet your guide and group in Estes Park, Colorado at the Estes Park Mountain Shop (2050 Big Thompson Ave) at 5:00 PM the evening before your trip begins for an orientation meeting. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip to answer any questions you have, provide you with more details about your exact trip, and coordinate the rendezvous.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).
Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The maximum group size on portered trips is 6 guests, 3 porters and 1 guide. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
Being a high mountain environment, the Rocky Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in Colorado's high country. On trips in June, snow is a slight possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
High / Low
Camping on Backpacking Trips
Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.
Fresh & Delicious
Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.
In the Action
Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.