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on Emerald Lake Trail

3 days ago

I tried to go there today but the road is closed during government shutdown

It’s pretty, but if you’re not into touristy, I’d stray.

Beautiful hike! The road to Monarch Lake is closed for the season, so know you'll have about an extra mile each way. We saw a family of moose close to the trailhead, lots of animal prints around Monarch Lake so be aware. Snow was well packed for most of the trail, but once you reach the switchbacks after Monarch Lake you'll probably want snowshoes, as XC skiers don't go there. We only made it to Cascade Falls and the trip took about 6 hours RT. Anyone else trying it out in the winter - good luck!

snowshoeing
14 days ago

The snow on the trail is packed so it is easily visible although completely covered. Trail is not overly difficult and the views along the way are spectacular.

Spikes required in winter, but the trail has plenty of traffic that snowshoes are probably overkill. Lovely even in winter. Arrive super early, the line for parking when we left was outrageous.

hiking
23 days ago

Completed this in part with Dream lake. Really slippery and busy. We arrived at trailhead lot a little before 7 and it was half full. When we were done, there was a line about a half mile long with cars waiting to get in.

snowshoeing
25 days ago

Nice little hike any time of year, just be prepared with snowshoes if a fresh snow or spikes during winter time.

hiking
27 days ago

Hey Guys,

This was a pretty amazing trip. Although it cannot compete with my June 2017 trip I took with family and a real close friend.

Today, I left Estes Park near 9am and arrived at the trail head shortly after to a parking lot of maybe 10 cars and 20 degrees most of the trip. The road up to the trail head had some really good ice patches so just watch your speed.

I did not need to use my snow shoes or micro spikes along any part of the journey. I did use my trek poles which may have offset the need for my spikes. I did post hole in a few places, but nothing bad.

Even for twenty degrees is was really nice and I saw quite a few people along the way. If you plan on going all the way to Emerald Lake, please have the right shoes and not jeans. I saw so many people in sweatpants and jeans where the leg portion from the knee down look as if it was beginning to freeze. You may feel warm as you are moving but once you stop, you will feel the pain.

There are quite a few places to rent snow shoes, gaiters and poles close by. I’ve rented from Estes Park Mountain Shop before and really enjoyed the service. Whether you go here or another place, the rentals are decent prices and will save you some heartache.

For Nymph Lake:

If you are traveling further than Nymph Lake, then you will probably be walking across the icy lake at some point. If you go the way I did, you could lose the actual trail. If you do cross to the left like I did, yes it is shorter but you lose site of the trail. Well here is a TIP. When you cross the left side, look for a bench to your right. The trail is easily marked beyond this and you can follow it up to the main trail leading to Dream Lake. I included a photo of the bench in this from August 2017 from Google Maps.

Dream Lake:

I skirted around the shore of this lake as the trail is unrecognizable here. Also going around the shore on the ice is pretty relaxing and level. Once I got to the end of Dream Lake, I easily spotted the trail continuing to Emerald Lake. Although as you are walking along the lake’s edge you can see the walls of the mountain ahead of you and really think you are at the end on the lake and cannot believe there is one more lake. Well there is!!

Emerald Lake:

The end of the road. I took a walk to the middle of the lake and took a really fun 360 degree photo using an app called “Street View” by google. A really cool way to take photos anywhere. I would hope that you practice using the app at home prior to trying it out in nature, 20 degrees and wind whipping though at times.

Have a fun and safe trip. Remember to hydrate before your trip even though the colder temperatures fool you into thinking you are fine. If hiking alone, let someone know where you will be and don’t deviate from the plan useless they know.

Also, there is sporadic cell service here.

I walked this trail 12/17/18 and it’s a beautiful trail. The trail was snow packed with patches of ice but easily trekked.

Fun to walk/slide on the ice covered lakes and slide in the snow. We wore tennis shoes and made it just fine without fancy equipment. There were several spots where we slid down the hill on our rears—very fun! Be prepared to fall in the snow!

Now I know why this trail is so popular. Did this trail on 10/25. Beautiful day. Some icy patches, but did not need spikes. I want to go back and see this place again in winter, spring, and summer.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Beautiful
Doable in regular hiking boots
Went on a Sunday at 11am and was moderately traveled
Lots of available parking

hiking
1 month ago

I always love this hike! Today was probably the most windy day I've had there thus far, at the lakes, but still beautiful! I started out around 9:40am, plenty of parking in the lot. I used my crimp-ons until just after nymph lake, then switched over to the snowshoes. There were quite a few people making it to Emerald lake with just the crimp-ons. That said there was a lot of post holing as well! I would recommend having your snowshoes with you. And to Arizona ( just moved here from AZ) have fun playing this winter! and maybe I'll see you snowshoeing next time;)!

Great hike. Wore spikes to nymph lake then switched to snowshoes for rest of way. Trail was fairly well packed but a step off the trail and you quickly realize how deep the snow is. Got to dream lake and some hikers were ice skating. Walked across frozen lake and pressed to emerald.. some elevations getting to dream and emerald but nothing too long. Wind was down which made for a nice walk in the woods.

hiking
1 month ago

Just up there today, winds out of the west with gusts that had to be 60 mph. Hike out past nymph lake was calm, but approaching dream lake winds really picked up.. high drifting past dream lake, without snow shoes you can’t get beyond the last hundred yards or so to emerald lake. Still a beautiful and awesome hike despite the winds. Only got up to 9F, gear held up nicely

Super easy and super beautiful.

Beautiful hike for all skill levels.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Nice show shoe, plenty of snow now.

hiking
1 month ago

Wind was intense once we reached Dream Lake! Got out of the wind by staying along the bank in the trees, but would've been much more difficult if we didn't have snowshoes.

Decent views. Cold around the lakes so don't quit. Snow shoes make it easier after dream lake. Emerald lake is gorgeous

All right trail nice views at times

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful and Cold with a straight west wind. All three lakes are frozen solid but remain breathtaking. Trail is hard packed up to Dream Lake, but leg up to Emerald is looser. Can be done with micro spikes, but changed over to my snowshoes and going was much easier.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Went on 11/26 and there was great snow! We used crampon spikes with 2/3” spikes and could only get to Dream Lake. The snow got knee deep after that so we had to turn around but snowshoers continued. Beginning of the trail had wide, packed snow but got progressively looser and more narrow as the trail went on. Beautiful views and great fun!

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Beautiful trail, great views, definitely needed the crampons/snow shoes to finish the full 3!

Hiked in August and it was super crowded but still beautiful! We saw all age ranges and abilities on this hike. Awesome views.

Cold and windy late Sept hike. But the fall colors were just gorgeous.

hiking
1 month ago

Lots of snow on trail but was easy to walk. Beautiful day yesterday!

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful easy trail, but very popular among tourists so get there early!

LOVED this trail. snowy, icy, and absolutely beautiful! not much effort.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazingly beautiful on a quiet Wednesday. The trail was icy in many spots, especially between Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. We had crampons that made the hike a lot easier!

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