Emerald Lake Trail

EASY 278 reviews

Emerald Lake Trail is a 3.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, CO that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from April until November.

3.3 miles 767 feet Out & Back

kid friendly


fly fishing


nature trips







wild flowers




no dogs

Take Hwy. 36 out of Estes Park to the RMNP entrance, then drive to the Bear Lake Road, take a left, and follow this road to the Bear Lake Trailhead.

4 minutes ago

I would rate this trail as moderate rather than easy. Mainly due to the uphill at altitude. Views are awesome and the three lakes you get to visit are spectacular. It does get busy though. Even in winter. In summer it's a highway.

4 hours ago

Amazing views on a relatively short hike. I'd say it's also relatively easy, but the elevation makes it a little challenging for your average Texan accustomed to breathing at 200 ft above sea level.

A great hike all around, which took us about 2 hours to Emerald Lake at the end, including LOTS of picture stops. Took about 30-45 mins to get back, since downhill is always easier. Perfect day hike trail, in my opinion. Can't beat the views, and the terrain is just rugged enough to be fun, without leaving you totally wiped out at the end.

3 days ago

Emerald Lake is a very nice little hike. We did this in late September and it the weather was perfect. We got to the trailhead very early in the morning and got started on the hike. After a brief stroll you first come to Nymph Lake, which is a pleasant sight with beautiful Lilly pads and beautiful foliage. The next stop is Dream Lake - this was absolutely beautiful and in our opinions just as rewarding as Emerald Lake. After a bit more effort you are at the gorgeous Emerald Lake. As all the guide books correctly describe, this is a fairly easy hike with big payoffs. It was well travelled the morning we did it but we did not feel like it was too crowded or anything. People who are in decent shape or do a fair amount of hiking will find this to be not terribly challenging, however the altitude may pose a challenge for folks not used to it. We highly recommend this hike!

4 days ago

Scenic and simple for the beginner. This trail boasts everything someone visiting RMNP for the first time would want to satisfy their hiking experience, even if your just a blue moon type of hiker. The ancient glacier that passed thousands of years ago provides viewers confirmation of the simple and raw power that sheered the face of the granite peek above the lake providing landscape mastery painted with boulders and rubble gracing the lake below as if it was always supposed to be. Enjoy!

4 days ago

7 days ago

Loved this family hike! Boys lived climbing rocks. Each lake was unique and beautiful.

10 days ago

A little crowded (we went on a Sat) but beautiful views

10 days ago

11 days ago

I had total hip replacement 3 months ago, and this hike was perfect. Not too simple, had enough elevation gain to help me get back in shape. Gorgeous views, to boot.

11 days ago

12 days ago

This is my favorite hike at RMNP. This is a fairly easy out and back hike that is a gentle uphill on the way out and the same gentle downhill back. The scenery is beautiful and wildlife is abundant. In terms of bang for the buck (hiking effort) this trail can't be beat.

13 days ago

Awsome hike, started snowing when we got there. fun fun fun.

16 days ago

This is a relatively easy hike (for casual hikers who are acclimated to the high altitude) with spectacular views! The trail leads through other lakes (nymph and dream) that are also amazing! Emerald Lake is really beautiful; so picturesque. We met a few people who took the trail to dream lake, then headed back...but keep going... because it is so worth the distance! I would suggest getting here early, as it gets pretty busy, and the parking lots fills up quick. The alternative, I think, is going later in the afternoon -- as long as you plan your hike as to avoid a hike back in the dark. As for photography, it might be a better idea to go in the morning, when the sun isn't setting behind the mountain -- although the sunset is a beautiful sight to see, too.

16 days ago

23 days ago

26 days ago

28 days ago

Busy place but that's because it's relatively easy and definitely beautiful. Consider taking the free shuttle to keep our parks beautiful!

29 days ago

30 days ago

Gorgeous trail. Came on a Tuesday morning and it was packed, but it didn't take away from the beauty. Absolutely wonderful and the hike was not bad at all. Definitely one you don't want to miss out on!

1 month ago