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We did this hike on a Saturday about a week and a half ago. We got to the trailhead around 8:10am and there were plenty of parking spots still, but by the time we left (around 12 or so) there weren't any spots. There is no other place to park other than the pull off parallel spots on the side of the road near the trailhead since the areas surrounding this trail are private property, so I would recommend getting there early. My app said the trail was 6.71mi total, and it took us a little over 2.5 hours. There isn't too much uphill, so it's a nice and pleasant hike. We did see fresh looking bear poop on the trail, but didn't run into any issues. As many of the reviews below mention, once you get to the waterfall you can go over to the left side of it and easily climb up to the top. Well worth it as the views are beautiful, although I am a little biased because my fiancée proposed to me up there!

good hike maybe 12 parking spots, so get there early. The hike is mostly meadow until last 3/4 mile were you enter the woods the last 1000 feet is a scrambling between rocks. to get to the top, there is a small trail to the left. going up not bad coming down a little is little bit scary but worth it.

on Royal Arch Trail

2 days ago

Awesome views

Not sure why the high rating on this trail. Nothing spectacular. Gem lake is really more like disappointing dirty swamp

2 days ago

Not a difficult trail but a beautiful end point!

Beautiful day, Makes a great couples hike.

we went on a Monday and arrived around 11 am, only saw two other people and some campers that we're across from the trailhead but definitely not high traffic. i agree it was a little confusing to arrive to but the directions helped, stay left at the fork and keep going uphill. also like other people said, it is really downhill the way out, so the way back be prepared it's a long way up! great trail, looking forward to doing it again !

A pretty constant ascent for most of the trail but the views are great and arch was so worth it! Though the elevation wasn't too high at the end, we had a little trouble with the altitude here since we're from the northeast (brought extra oxygen in case). Distance is not very long at all and was relieved that the descent was not super steep. Highly recommend this hike!

Not a gem in our opinion. More like a small pond and wonder who named it?

hiking
3 days ago

Majestic arch!!!

Beautiful hike! Long one with heavily trafficked trail.

Good hike...go early as it gets busy with hikers. make sure you wear your hiking boots. it's a bit rocky in places.

hiking
4 days ago

It was crowded and I don’t know if I would even call that a Pond! Most definitely not a lake. But there were some great views and it was a decent climb.

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

The trail was well marked in most areas but a few times got a little confusing. I wouldn't really call it a lake, but it's more of a large muddy pond. the hike up was beautiful and there were great places to stop and take pictures and look around. there were lots of very steep steps.

5 days ago

It is worth it! It is not easy. It becomes Very steep and small tight switch backs. Don’t give up at Sentinal Pass. After this it’s kinda brutal because the pass is a treat too. It’s just a bit further and worth the entire stair master. A very rewarding hike. Great workout.

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike. Excellent views. Moderate in difficulty. Wouldn’t consider it to be very hard. I would definitely do his hike again.

Lots of stairs at the end that got the best of me, but pretty shaded most of the way, a compost toilet at the top which was very much needed, some decent bouldering opportunities along the way if you’re into that, and once you’re at the top: words can’t describe the tranquil beauty of Gem Lake. Perfect end to a moderately challenging hike. So worth it!!!

Great hike. Not for beginners. My husband and I (late 50s) took about an hour to hike to the top and about 40 minutes to descend. Beautiful view from the arch.

T U F F. But worth it. Go early to avoid the crowds at the top, trail is fairly simple to follow except for when it’s not.

hiking
9 days ago

Lots of stairs but beautiful view at the top! Not outrageously hard but still a good hike!

Pretty steep steps at the end! Lots of shade on the trail which is nice.

hiking
10 days ago

Really pretty quick hike. Easy to follow and well maintained trail!

Absolutely beautiful and worth the sweat and just a lil soreness..(i went in as an amateur lol) but would definitely do it again

on Gem Lake Trail

hiking
10 days ago

Great trail. Lots of fantastic views of Estes, RMNP and Longs Peak. Parking was bad and there was a mass of humanity at the trailhead. The hike up wasn't what I expected at all. The trail is a steady uphill climb the entire way to the 'lake' with a few short sections of more even terrain. I would rate it as moderate to moderate/difficult in places. Towards the end of the trail, footing becomes precarious on large boulder sized steps and can be a bit steep in several sections. Little ones may have a hard time traversing the trail in these spots. I highly suggest wearing good shoes or boots on the way up and switching to water shoes or flip-flops once you reach the 'lake'. The lake is more of a pond. Very beautiful with a lovely mirror effect as it is somewhat sheltered from the wind. Beautiful Dragon Flies and fun Ground Squirrels all over the place. (maybe a little too friendly as they were actually stealing food from folks and jumping on one girl seated on the ground). Be bear aware. There was a Black Bear spotted on the trail earlier in the day. Please pack it in and pack it out while on the trail. We saw a few folks walk off after enjoying their picnics, not bothering to pick-up all of their trash. The leaves are changing! Colorado Gold season! WE DID NOT PAY FOR PARKING. I am not sure why it says there is a $10.00 parking fee, but we saw no such thing.

hiking
11 days ago

Not too crowded if you start before 830.

Hiked this trail with my wife and kids. Started raining which made everything slick, but when you make it to the top the views are amazing.

Simple views with beautiful fern fields/meadows. Would recommend as an hike for a day that you don't want to go up too much "up hill"

Fantastic for a short hike, quick elevation with a family!

hiking
11 days ago

even though i found the lake to be a bit lackluster at the end, the hike itself was beautiful throughout. took ~2.5 hrs. and actually ended up being one of my favorite hikes ever (the leaves started to turn yellow, sooo pretty). this being my kickoff hike makes me really excited to see what the other rmnp trails have in store!!

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