Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 1,515 reviews

Emerald Lake Trail is a 3.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November.

DISTANCE
3.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
708 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

fishing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

no dogs

This scenic hiking trail to Emerald Lake from the Bear Lake Trailhead is a popular route in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers will pass pristine alpine lakes including Nymph Lake and Dream Lakes and be treated to beautiful views of rocky peaks including Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak and Glacier Gorge. This is a great hike for photographers to capture spectacular shots of the surrounding mountains along the trail. The trailhead is at the end of Bear Lake Road - a short drive from Estes Park in Colorado. There is minimal elevation gain along the path which is paved for the first half-mile. The trail is open year-round.

Beautiful scenery at every turn, and very, very crowded. I would rate this hike as Easy-Moderate. Half the trail is literally paved and the second half is well maintained stair steps. Our 5 year old tackled this with no problems.

8 hours ago

took our young children and really enjoyed it! challenging but doable for them. plenty of shade and places to stop. breathtaking scenery.

23 hours ago

Definitely gets full of traffic early, and make sure everyone uses the restroom before you park; the restrooms at the entrance are the most disgusting things I’ve ever walked in and then immediately out of.

Beautiful views along the entire walk!

hiking
1 day ago

Great route not to be missed if visiting area. Stay hydrated, especially if not used to altitudes.

1 day ago

Up and down

1 day ago

Gorgeous! Hike is moderate with trails easily marked. We saw many elk along the way. We took the shuttle from town because we arrived later in the day and couldn’t park at Big Bear of transfer station...they were full. It was a very pleasant drive up to the hike...and we could both admire the scenery!

hiking
1 day ago

This trail felt like walking through a fairy tail. Just too perfect. We arrived at 4:30, after the crowds were leaving; but the trail was still swamped with people. Completely worth the crowds. Just magical.

4 days ago

Vraiment beau paysage !!

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful trail. Definitely arrive by 7:30 am to avoid heavy traffic. If you are not an early riser and always lucky, arrive around 10 am to take the early birds' spots.

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful scenery but there are better ones than this lake.

hiking
6 days ago

It's worth the uphill grade to see Emerald Lake. Very pretty and attainable.

6 days ago

This hike without other factors should be a 5. Three great hikes in a short hike. But the amount of people on this trail just ruins it. Started at 830 and already way too late.

Once you get the lakes don't find a place to sit down immediately as other do. Explore around the lake to find some solitude.

Really want to do this hike again but starting at 530 am.

Did this hike with wife and kids (2 and 5). Had hiking carrier for them but they also took turns hiking.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful hike despite all the people.

hiking
7 days ago

Four lakes along the trail. There are all beautiful. My favorite is the dream lake. I went there in summer and it's so cool. Imagine How I was happy as I went there from south Arizona!

hiking
7 days ago

Easy trail. Beautiful view of lake

hiking
8 days ago

Gorgeous scenery. Went in early August and it was like something out of a fairytale. Great hike for all ages! If you’re up for a beautiful 9+ miles I recommend parking at Bierstadt trailhead and taking the shuttle up to Emerald Lake trail, hike to Emerald Lake and back, then take the trail to Bear Lake, hike from Bear to Bierstadt, then return to your vehicle. Amazing journey! Enjoy!!

10 days ago

Beautiful hike. We saw some elk, cut throat trout, whitetail deer.

hiking
10 days ago

Being widely regarded as one of the best destinations in RMNP cuts both ways. On the one hand, Emerald Lake is absolutely gorgeous and well worth the fairly modest hike. On the other hand, the trail and lake are packed with people from roughly 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The number of idiotic parents letting their kids feed the animals at the end was particularly distressing (animals get sick, kids risk getting plague or tularemia, etc.). I gave this four stars because it's a 3/5 most of the day, unfortunately, and a 6/5 when you have the place more or less to yourself.

10 days ago

Simply spectacular!

10 days ago

Beautiful.

10 days ago

Since the afternoon thunderstorm did not happen, I took shuttle from Estes Park at 3:50p and arrived at Bear lake trail head by 4:30pm. There was only another couple in the shuttle. Shuttles heading down, on the other hand, were all packed with hikers.
It was a good time to hike up as not many people were heading up the trail then, whereas lots of people were heading down. Lots of little kids on the trail too. By the time I came down at 6pm the crowd was definitely thinning out.
I gave it 4 star due to the crowd. But hike itself was very nice with some nice views and easy climb with lots of stairs.

10 days ago

Decent hike, lakes are pretty amazing! Crowded path and in the lakes.

hiking
11 days ago

Love this hike! Saw elk and deer today, including babies. Started the trail around 7:50 am and it was not too crowded. Definitely more crowded when we were coming down the trail. Recommend going early and using park and ride if the lot is full.

12 days ago

Very nice hike with beautiful views.

hiking
12 days ago

Gorąco polecam dla całych rodzin. Byliśmy tu z dwójka dzieci, 9 i 11 lat. Dzieci były zachwycone. Po drodze widzieliśmy kilka moose , i wiele innych żyjątek, ptaki, ryby, sarny. Cały szlak nie jest skomplikowany, ale troche pod górkę. Jednak warto, widoki są piękne. Sugeruje zabrać aparat. Drogę powrotna pokonaliśmy w 40min.

hiking
12 days ago

Very nice hike did at 6:00 pm with very little crowds

13 days ago

Really difficult to get to because parking lot is almost always full, so requires 2 separate shuttles. Amazing hike though, although it is crowded.

hiking
13 days ago

Nice beginner trail. Non technical but pretty views of multiple lakes. We saw elk , chipmunks, and a very friendly marmot at Emerald Lake.

hiking
13 days ago

One of the best hikes in the park. Not easy but not too hard. Great scenery all along the way.

14 days ago

Pretty but it was rainy and windy so that may have made it not so great lol.

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