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

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Extremely popular trail. We started at 6:30 in the morning and didn't have to share Emerald Lake with too many people, so going early will earn you a little more serenity. It's gorgeous all the way there.

hiking
16 hours ago

Hiked this on a Monday, 4/16 ~0930. Only shared the trail with 1 other couple but the lot was filled by the time we left. Microspikes absolutely needed, gorgeous hike! Can be difficult to find the trail at first, just take a left at the huge boulder after Nymph

hiking
19 hours ago

We hiked this with 4 kids aged 5 through 9. We made many stops along the way but was delightfully enjoyed by all. We were there in July, the trail was crowded but less so as we passed the first two lakes. We swam in the lake, it was wicked cold, and then basked in sun on the large rocks to dry off. Great times by all.

I got to the trailhead about 11am on a Monday (04/16) and only crossed paths with a handful of people. I loved that the trail offered areas of dense tree coverage, enormous boulders and rock walls, and views of the creek from above and at ground level. There were only a few icy spots left.
*I used this app to pull up directions on Google Maps however it directed me to turn too soon at a place where there was no actual turn. So, if you use google maps drive past where it tells you to make the final turn, go right at the fork and you'll find the sign for the parking lot on your right about .5 mile from where Google told you to turn.*

snowshoeing
5 days ago

(8 p.m. - 11 p.m.) Snowing at Bear Lake parking lot and all the way through Emerald Lake. Nymph and Dream both had water on top of the ice and had to walk along their shores. Used crampons from the parking up to Dream Lake and then switched to snowshoes. Wind has always picked up at the start of Dream Lake, with the snow visibility was poor, needed to use a head lamp to and from Emerald Lake. It was a good trip!

Great for most levels of ability. No need for snow shoes, was just fine in microspikes, probably wouldn’t recommend without. Beautiful views throughout the hike.

hiking
7 days ago

Beautiful trail!

Beautiful, fun hike! Did on 4/11 and traction definitely helped, especially coming down. You definitely don’t need snowshoes right now though. The trail is pretty easy to follow for the most part. Just make sure when leaving Nymph Lake, you go on the left side of the rock, not the right.

4/9- beautiful hike. Still some snow and ice in areas. We put on spikes after about a quarter mile and only needed them in some spots but were glad to have them! An easy walk through the woods. Mostly flat. The river goes along side the trail the whole way. The forest reminded me of hikes I’ve done in the PNW. A very peaceful setting. Saw lots of moose and bear tracks.

Words can’t describe the beauty of the entire hike. Not a bad hike at all good for everybody

This is not a "bang for your buck" kind of hike, like the big name hikes out of the main RMNP east entrance. I ran into several tourists near the entrance who seemed disappointed with the hike. Instead this is a hike for solitude and being in the wilderness. Really nice water features along the hike and pristine woodland. If you need some peace and quiet then this is your hike.

We clocked 8.25 miles accounting for the extra 2 miles (1 each way) due to the winter parking lot as well as some wandering around the falls. we had snowshoes but never used them, however I suggest having them right now just in case. The waterfalls will be a lot more exciting in a month or so.

Quite icy. Had snowshoes but only needed them to deal with the ice.

hiking
12 days ago

Very beautiful area, you’ll definitely need micro spikes and trekking poles, it made a world of difference even on the easy bear lake hike. Unfortunately we got lost after nymph lake and had to turn back. Wish there was some visual marker after nymph lake.

The mountain shop is 30 minutes away, not 12 minutes as one reviewer posted so best to get the spikes first.

hiking
16 days ago

Went 3/24 and was still snow covered. Only had tennis shoes and was doable, but we were slipping a little bit on the way down. Absolutely gorgeous trail though. Competitive parking be prepared to wait or get there early

hiking
16 days ago

We hiked 4/1. There was a group of 6 of us new to hiking in CO, in snow. We hiked around Bear Lake as a test run and realized despite waterproof and good hiking shoes, microspikes is definitely a game changer. The ranger suggested we rented then at Estes Park Mountain Shop (12min away). Definitely worth it! They're $8/day and makes a world of difference. With that we decided to try the Emerald Lake Trail which has beautiful and breathtaking views! The view is so worth it when you get to the end. You get to pass Nymph Lake and Dream Lake on the way. Trail is very snowy and icy, a lot of the snow already packed from other hikers. General good rule we found is stick left going up and stick right going down until you get to Dream Lake. This hike is such a great hike for us snow hiking newbies and really gave us a great first start in hiking in snow. Trekking poles were really helpful for us and I would recommend. Microspikes I would highly recommend. Despite the wind and cold, we were able to hammock at the end to enjoy the wonderful view. It took us 2 hours (took 30 min break for lunch) to get there but that's with many stops because most of us were use to not hiking at a higher elevation and the steep parts winded a lot of us. We also stopped to take off layers since we were getting hot and great spots to take scenic pictures!

hiking
17 days ago

Very icy trails, definitely will want spikes. Ice is thin at the lakes outlets/inlets. Saw a few people get wet. (3/31/18)

snowshoeing
18 days ago

Love this hike! Winter or summer. Moderate and BEAUTIFUL views.

hiking
18 days ago

this hike is still very snowy in the spring, but it isn’t too hard and offers a rewarding view at the end. don’t forget shoes with good traction.

One of the best trails I've ever done. We did this trail in early September. Weather was nice and cool and we saw 4 moose while on the trail. We could not finish the trail because they camped up just off the side of the trail. Looking forwarsld to going back and completing it

Loved exploring this snowy wonderland today. My waterproof hiking boots carried me through just fine- definitely a little slippery though around some of the turns towards the end

Hiked this trail in late September 2017. Be sure to pack good rain gear. A standard cheap rain coat from Walmart will work half way up the incline, but the cold will begin to make it easier for the fabric to tear. Wear good hiking shoes (water resistant if possible), the trail will be wet especially if it's snowing/raining.

Great views the whole way! Pristine lakes! Go when weather is nice, the trip will be much more enjoyable.

snowshoeing
24 days ago

Feb 25 2018 - Beautiful morning snowshoeing adventure. Great forest coverage throughout, with some sporadic views of the St Vrain valley that you're trekking through. It was snowy enough to require snowshoes. The frozen cascades are pretty spectacular. You do have to walk about a mile to the trailhead in the winter from the open parking lot, which is a bit of a bummer. [3.8/5]

nice trail. many icy spots this time of year. Be sure to wear spikes.

Still a winter wonderland and definitely worth a visit. Hiked on 3.18.18 in boots with a friend hiking in tennis shoes. Doable, but spikes/more tread would be helpful on the way down! The trail itself is hard to see in some places, but mostly just follow the packed snow. What a dream.

hiking
26 days ago

Breathtaking views from this busy trail. Went on March 18, 18 before the expected snow. crampons or spikes were a must, those without them were REALLY struggling. Didn't quite see the need to go as extensive as snow shoes, while many had them. my 5 y.o., wife and I did great with just the crampons, enjoying every mountain view along the way. Lots of deer, and elk not from from the trailhead as well.

One of my favorite hikes ❤️❤️

Gorgeous snowy hike/walk on March 20. It took me longer than expected but it was so peaceful and I only saw one other person the whole time. So it was well worth the drive. Very majestic. Highly recommend it.

hiking
1 month ago

Trail was very snowy and due to the past few days of wind the snow wasn't very packed. Super beautiful and amazing hike and there were plenty of people on the trail, but I would not recommend it without snow shoes

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 3/13 with boots plus 30 lbs of camera gear, 20oz of water, a camera monopod/tripod/walking stick, and a MacBook Pro 15 (Which I regret carrying). Trail is mostly snow and very little ice unless you include the frozen lake. Great for first timers during all seasons. Definitely quite the winter wonderland and there's a fair amount of friendly people throughout the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 3/14. Great hike for people who are familiar with the outdoors. We hiked with just hiking boots but microspikes would have definitely been handy as the snow was a bit slick/slippery. Beautiful weather made it an incredibly beautiful hike. When we arrived at Emerald Lake it was extremely windy but we were able to sit and take in the majesty of the lake for a few minutes before we headed back.

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