Explore Rocky Mountain National Park, CO - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO Map
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Holly Hunt reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Nature trips

The trail itself is breathtaking and really fun, but we did have a couple issues with other visitors. If you're looking for a very serene and quiet place, you'll need to do this hike on a weekday and maybe closer to the evening. It was busy. If you're new to hiking/not used to high elevation, prepare to go slow and take your time so you can catch your breath. Most of the trail is steep with some "stairs" built in. You don't need any climbing experience and there's no scrambling, but it'll keep your heart rate up. Make sure to turn around and look toward Estes a few times on the way up. The view is spectacular. We also saw some chipmunks and abert squirrels. Very interesting rock formations (we think we spotted an arch/window) and spruce doug fir, and ponderosa trees. The only reason I feel I can't rate this 5 stars is because there was some quite disrespectful activity going on at the lake and on our way down. I love seeing families and young children on trails, but my partner almost got hit in the head with a rock a kid threw downward on the trail and there was lots of overall disruption of the lake (which is SO pristine and beautiful). My partner grew up in Estes and this is a go-to spot for us, but don't get your hopes up for a tranquil experience unless you're here when it's not busy. If you're visiting Estes and want to get a more quiet experience at a lake, try Cub Lake during the week.

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Gideon Wolf reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Lake at the top is nothing special, but the views along the way are breathtaking. No spikes necessary. Moderate uphill climb to the top.

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Liz Sanchez reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Been hiking this trail a few times over the past few decades. Was definitely easier 20 years ago and 50 lbs lighter, lol The stone steps are a bit high in some spots towards the top making it rough on the knees at times. Nothing beats the breathtaking views from several areas though. The trail definitely keeps the heart rate up. The lake is pretty and peaceful and the chipmunks are friendly. Good times!

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Josephine Baker reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

4/12/21- trail was clear with some snow at the top. Didn’t need spikes though! Gem lake was pretty cold so bring an extra jacket and some trekking poles for the way down to save your knees and feet!

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Wes Gaiser reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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HikingGreat!IcyMuddyRockySnow

Fun easy trail for out of towners. Just getting used to the elevation takes long enough!

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Ashley Matheny reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Well maintained trail with great views. Definitely a solid workout on a steady incline. Little slick closer to the top, but more than doable without spikes 4/10.

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Rachel Fosbender reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Only a few spots at the top that were still icy. The way up is quite the workout if you’re a beginner.

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James Wingerter reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Great trail, went in early April and there were only a few spots with snow / ice. Highly recommend for a spring hike

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Jordan Crowe reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Great hike with views in RMNP. Hike with Meg and Tucker

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Derrick Quandt reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Good

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Brandi Evans reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Amazing trail! Definitely on the more difficult side especially for someone not used to this elevation. It took about an hour to reach the lake, but we stopped several times to take a break and some pictures. Amazing views on the way up. There is a little outhouse bathroom near the top! The lake is stunning so the hike is well worth it!!

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Jenni C reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

A workout on the way up. There are nice views about halfway up. Close to the lake, there were a couple of icy/slushy spots where microspikes may be useful for timid hikers but not necessary. The lake water isn’t very pretty, but the rock formation, trees, and mountain view are nice.

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Cory Ellis reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Took our time and enjoyed the views. Micro spikes not needed but we’re helpful in one section. Lake mostly thawed. Chipmunks very friendly at the lake.

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John Pareizs reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

I regret not brining tp. Coolest bathroom I ever saw. As others stated a few icy spots but no issues wo spikes.

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Sydney Stites reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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HikingIcy

beautiful views! a few icy spots but definitely doable without spikes!

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Sara Mejia M reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Awesome trail! It gets a little icy at the top but completely worth it. Spikes are nice but not necessary.

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George Cromer reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

solid hike. icy close to the tops. spikes/crampons recommended but not necessary. Lake is still mostly frozen over. great views

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Edward Kennedy reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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HikingIcy

Nice hike strenuous but not to bad. Need shoe spikes at present. Lake underwhelming Really should call it Gem Puddle but overall still beautiful hike

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Adine Hickey reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

This was a very lovely hike. We turned around halfway because we had hiked in the morning and we’re getting hungry.

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Judah Johnson reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Great. Minimal snow/slush. Easy we had a 4yr old and a 64 yr old do it. Stoped about 3/4mile short of gem lake.

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Amanda G reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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HikingIcy

Nice easy hike. Some nice views along the way. Small lake but pretty frozen. No view at top. Still some icy patches. I did not wear spikes on the way up but it was slow going. Wore my spikes for the first section on the way down.

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Brooke Preslar reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Beautiful hike with great views almost the entire way.

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Judah Johnson reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

Good trail.

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Laura Fulks reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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Hiking

We loved the trail! It was challenging for us as we were not acclimated to the elevation, but very awesome trail. Mix of ice, dirt/mud, packed snow. Spikes really helped! I highly recommend!

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Heather L reviewed Gem Lake Trail
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HikingIcyMuddySnow

Only do this trail if you’re bored. I picked this one since it is a little bit lower elevation (I didn’t want to hike on snow the whole way). Honestly, I felt like it was a waste of my time. I almost passed the “lake” before I realized. As others have stated, it’s more like a pool. Deer Mountain Trail is an excellent choice compared to this one. (You have a 360 degree view at the top of Deer Mountain, therefore it blows this one out of the water). If you decide to do this one anyways, it’s a little icy in spots. And a few spots where the snow is super packed down, making it slick. Used yaktraks on the first part coming back down, then took them off. The granite rock slabs along the trail are the best parts!

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