The first few miles are rather mellow, with very little elevation gain up until The Pool. From here, things take a turn uphill. The next thing you will come to is...
Fern Falls. Which is a pretty cool waterfall that is right off the trail. If you have the desire to go to Black Pool, you will head north when the Fern Lake trail makes the first switchback turn left- Fern Lake is located at the next switchback after that.
Joe Mills Mountain on the left, Notchtop center, and Little Matterhorn (mostly in shade) to the right of that.
From here it is relatively easy to navigate down to Marguerite Falls. Simply follow the exit creek from the lake. It looked and seemed like there was a little bit of a social trail on either side of the creek, but that proved to not be true. The bushwhack was on, and it does get a bit thick at times.
I kept going down along the creek just in case that wasn't it, to make sure I'd been there. But this was the only thing that looked remotely like a waterfall.
Rather than go back up from here, I simply oriented myself to the north/northwest, and went in that general direction until I hit the trail. Movement became much easier, and I soon found myself at Fern Falls for the second time of the day.
I followed the trail down until it took a sharp right, and then found a place to move down the steep and at times loose hill to Spruce Creek. I crossed the creek atop a fallen log, and then made my way up a forested dirt and talus slope.
Gabletop and Castle Rock here.
I found that I'd veered too far east, and was on top of the domed granite features to the east of point 9246. You want to be on the bench between those areas. So I traversed west until things flattened out.
I headed northwest, paralleling the Big Thompson River up Forest Canyon. As with my last experience here, travel got tough. The bushwhacking is thick and steady, not only pushing through trees and chest high brush, but making your way over fallen trees, rock, and marsh.
Though I thought I was there, again just to make sure, I kept going. I made it out of the fire area and into the bush. It was just as thick as I remembered. About an hour later I hadn't hit another creek coming down from Stones Peak. I decided that the creek I thought was Lost Brook, was indeed Lost Brook. Back I went.
On the way back, I stayed a little bit higher up on Stones Peak. This saw me hit some areas of 100% tree fall and have to deal with that, walk on talus that was quite loose and shifting under me at time, and still have some bushwhacking to do. Then I started to see a cairn here and there and the faint outlines of a long ago trail.
The trail ended up leading me to the west side of point 9249. I decided it was easiest to avoid the steep slope to the south of point 9249 and just descended the more mellow drainage I was in. Once I met Spruce Creek, I headed downhill for a little bit before finding another nice log to cross the creek on.
Back at the car, I got unpacked and went back to the Big Thompson to scrub my hands off. Even with that wash up, the rest of me was covered in soot, bug bites (I saw the largest mosquito of my life in Forest Canyon and briefly wondered if Pterodactyls weren't truly extinct), scratches, some of which were bleeding. I bent both of my hiking poles. Got a huge blister on my left pinky toe. Forest Canyon will chew you up and spit you out. It is one of the truly wild places in the park, with few signs of humanity, and no trails. Thus, it is fairly difficult to navigate, but you are very likely to be the only person around. Enjoy the peace and solitude brought by this magical place in the depths of nature.
Marguerite Falls, Black Pool, and Raspberry Park via Fern Lake th:
Marguerite Falls, 9420 feet: 3.9 miles one way, 1270 foot gain. Moderate.
Black Pool, 9060 feet: 2.9 miles one way, 910* foot gain. Moderate+.
Raspberry Park, 9000 feet: 4.1 miles one way, 850* foot gain. Strenuous-.
Along the way, you will also pass:
Fern Lake, 9540 feet: 3.8 miles one way, 1390 foot gain. Moderate.
Fern Falls, 8800 feet: 2.6 miles one way, 650 foot gain. Moderate-.
The Pool, 8300 feet: 1.7 miles one way, 150 foot gain. Easy.
Arch Rocks, 8220 feet: 1.2 miles one way, 70 foot gain. Easy-.
Hike total: 10.5 miles round trip, 2400 feet gross elevation gain. Strenuous-.
*= Though there is not much net gain to reach these places, there is some up and down along the way that will add a few hundred feet of elevation gain to these totals.