Emmaline Lake Trail is a 13 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Bellvue, CO that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and camping and is accessible from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
From the trailhead, the trail skirts the west side of the Pingree Park Campus, on a former jeep trail for 3.5 miles to Cirque Meadowsa popular destination for visitors. Connects with Mummy Trail (http://alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/mummy-pass-trail) about 3.5 miles after the trail head. There are seven designated campsites with metal fire rings below and in Cirque Meadows; before you reach the Comanche Peak Wilderness and the Emmaline Lake Travel Zone. Campsite #1 is located at the junction of the Mummy Pass Trail. In the Cirque Meadows area proper, there are four campsites east of the meadow, and two campsites across Fall Creek to the north.
The first couple of miles are a bit of a snooze fest. Once you pass that, you're deeper into the forest and that's something I prefer. I went at the end of July and it was fairly warm around noon but the afternoon drizzle came through, which was a relief. Bring a rain jacket to stick in your pack since it seems to rain a little in the afternoons in the mountains. I went about 4 miles in and turned around since I went low on water. At about that point, there are great views of the Meadow and mountains.
First half: easy, second half: moderate-strenuous. Trail has a fair amount of traffic, saw around 20+ people. About a dozen river crossings, but there were always logs to balance on. Trail is easy to follow until the end, but there are lots of cairns to guide you. About halfway there is a cluster of campgrounds (you can only camp in designated sites), some with fire rings--which are the only places you can have open fires. Past that are stove only sites. You cannot camp within about 1.5-2 miles of the lake. Dogs are okay on leashes.
The trail is easy to follow until the last mile or so, has great views throughout and the lake is an awesome payoff.
There's also 11 camping spots at the meadow and in the travel zone so it provides for a great short backpacking trail as well.
This is probably one of the top five hikes I've done. The trail is beautiful and challenging, varied and hard to find the last 1-2 miles.
We hiked it in late June and there was still quite a bit of snow. We ended up bush-whacking and scrambling the last half mile or so because we couldn't find the trail (probably due to the snow). It was completely worth it!
If you are unsure of the trail, climb the ridge up from the right side. If you hike this in early summer bring some waterproof boots.
We started from the trailhead near Tom Bennett campground, which made it probably around 12 miles round trip, but I think you can start from a connector trail in CSU's mountain campus that would cut about 2-4 miles off of it.
Started trail at 8:30am got to lake at 12:05pm. Back to car at 2:45pm. Trail was lost once but found it ok. This is a NO-fishing area due to green back cuthroat repopulate program, I did not know this. At the first large campground the trail veers to the right, horses are not allowed past this point because of low clearings (dead trees hanging over trail) and tricky stream crossings. Great trail for dogs, rain was nice once we got back into tree cover. Trail ok for pack goats, llamas may have a hard time in the boulder field, donkeys may not make it up.
I finally got to do this trail this week. I started at about 7:45am and got to the top at around 11:30pm. It starts off on a mellow jeep trail that continues to the cirque lakes. Breathtaking views when you get there. It then continues into denser wooded areas with switchbacks and steeper climbs. Lots of wildflowers around this time of year. I had 2 dogs with me and they managed the hike just fine. One thing to note though, an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in at 12:00pm on the dot as I was finishing up lunch. Had to run back down through the rain and thunder. No lightning fortunately but I would of ideally started an hour early to avoid that.
absolutely stunning at the cirque and the lakes! and the climb up? a good workout and grateful for the cairns! wildflowers in abundance...gorgeous! now, the first part? meh. it's pretty but honestly kinda boring.
I loved this hike! The weather was perfect and the views are amazing. Even if you don't go all the way to the lake, cirque meadows is halfway and definitely worth seeing. The last 2 miles are a pretty steep climb in some areas. There were some moose pretty close to the trail at one point. There were several streams on the trail and most of it was shared by trees which was great for my dog.
I loved this hike...at the top. It was a challenge to continually be going up with not much straight aways, but the views at the top were well worth it.
I loved this hike, although next time I would pack in and spend the night, then hike to the lakes in the morning. This trail is pretty remote, and while we didn't see any wildlife, there were plenty of signs of them. The last mile you have to basically just keep your eyes peeled for cairns at all times- they' were easy spot as long as you were looking for them, and we climbed to treeline in no time. The first lake is Cirque Lake with beautiful blue and green hues, and then a short scramble over a boulder brings you to Lake Emmaline. Both are very beautiful and serene, as the trail usage is light.
Trailhead close to CSU's Pingree Park Campus... First 2 miles or so appear to be an old access road, mild grade. Road passes by some camp site areas and crosses a creek. Once it crosses the creek, trail is more narrow. Eventually climbs about 2000 (fairly certain - definitely not more than 2500) ft in 5.7 miles to reach 2 small lakes. Emmaline is at the end of the trail, only about another quarter mile past the first little lake. Good tree cover, two creek crossings and water at the end (if you have a dog, like I do). Pretty! Trailhead rated it as 'strenuous' but I don't know that I would agree - but guess that's really based on individual fitness level, huh?