Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 1,258 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.

hiking
8 hours ago

Beautiful trail, not too strenuous. If your looking for less people, probably not your trail. But knowing how busy this area is, I was not surprised and really loved all the lakes along the trail.

21 hours ago

Wonderful little hike for people new to Colorado and/or new to hiking! I took some friends here on several occasions for their first visits to Rocky Mountain National Park and they loved it. Amazing views of Glacier Gorge, Hallett Peak, and Flattop Mountain. Highly recommend!

hiking
1 day ago

Beautiful hike, very crowded though. I suggest starting early. Saw several elk along the trail. Surprised by the amount of people getting so close though. Saw a guy get charged at while trying to get a momma off the trail. So many neat places to stop and look around. Loved this hike!

1 day ago

Nice walk. But it’s 1.8 miles each way

1 day ago

I loved everything about this hike. All the lakes (Nymph, Dream, and this one) were beautiful. It was crowded but still worth it. I would recommend going early or plan to take a shuttle to the trailhead from park and ride.

hiking
1 day ago

We were able to park in the trailhead parking even though it said it was full. Several people on the trail. It is a National Park though. Definitely a hike to try and get in during the morning! Moderate trail. Fantastic views! The waterfalls between the three lakes are beautiful! Take your time to enjoy all the sights and sounds!

1 day ago

Relatively easy hike with fantastic views.

2 days ago

Great easy to moderate hike, the crowds did not bother us at all....it really thins out as you pass dream lake. Bring a long sleeve shirt, cold steady breeze up at emerald lake

hiking
3 days ago

Nice, easy hike with some nice views. Not too many people when you get there early.

hiking
3 days ago

This place would be amazing but there is way too many people

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful hike but pretty short. Get their before 7:30 because it gets uncomfortably crowded after

hiking
4 days ago

Gorgeous hike. Hint: get to the Bear Lake parking early to get a parking space. The wind comes in strong in afternoon so if you’re intending to Plein air paint. Get there early! It took much longer getting to Emerald Lake than I thought - easy return. Take more water than you think you need!

5 days ago

One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced! Spectacular!

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike great views and very good fishing for cutthroat at tail waters of Dream Lake and the inlet.

hiking
5 days ago

Hands down the most beautiful trail I've ever seen. Mid 30, mostly fit, carrying a toddler, took about an hour to get to the top. We went at 630pm, two hours before sunset, parked in the front row and had the trail to ourselves.

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike. Stunning views throughout the whole trail. Not overly difficult, great for showing people the beauty of Colorado.

hiking
6 days ago

Beautiful hike. The lake is gorgeous

hiking
6 days ago

Crowded trail, but beautiful views! All three lakes that you hit on this trail are different in their own ways and stunning. GET THERE EARLY. Very busy! Luckily RMNP offers a free shuttle service if you have trouble finding parking. Many families hiking this trail especially with small children, everyone was extremely polite and aware! We spotted an elk, birds, and chipmunks along the trail.

7 days ago

breathtaking view!

hiking
7 days ago

Beautiful. Good choice for new hikers. My teens enjoyed it. Saw elk. Lots of families with young children going at a slower pace. Went early to beat rush. Able to park in lot at 8:30 am. Not for quiet, peaceful retreat experience of nature. But a gorgeous and fun few hours in the mountains!

hiking
9 days ago

It is hard to believe that for as many times as I have hiked RMNP I never did this trail. What a travesty as this is truly an awesome trail with much to offer! Bring a lunch and take it all in!! Just what out for the wild life as they know there is food to be found from hikers.

9 days ago

great trail. would reccomend on the way back to go towards the glaciar gorge trail head (there os a shuttle there) for different scenery. this trail had alot of people. did see an elk sleeping on the trail but people remember these are wild animals and this is their home.

hiking
10 days ago

Really crowded. Surprised at the number of people messing with the elk. Views at Emerald Lake are nice.

hiking
10 days ago

I began with the Bear Lake nature loop, then right into the Dream and Emerald Lakes trek. It was the afternoon, so it was very busy - crowded in fact. But it was still a really good hike, beautiful scenery, and the lakes at the top have great views, too. I missed the elk near Emerald Lake, but the chipmunks were plentiful and very tame and friendly! Very cool!

hiking
11 days ago

Pretty easy hike, obviously super overcrowded though. Tons of kids and inexperienced hikers, but a good one to any first timers or visitors to. Still a little bit of snow on the trail, but nothing insurmountable with regular sneakers/boots.

12 days ago

Incredible hike! All 3 lakes are beautiful. Not much snow left but still a little slippery. Saw 3 elk!

13 days ago

Very high traffic

hiking
13 days ago

Went with my wife today. The trail was very crowded but it is good to see families enjoying the jewel of the National Park System. The weather was beautiful and the views were beyond spectacular at all four lakes hiking up. Trail was rated true to rating. Moderate in difficulty. Some slippery snowy patches still so be careful. As always.........MEMORABLE!

13 days ago

This trail overall is epic. No other words. Probably the best hiking in the country. I would recommend when you get to dream lake, turn around and take the haiyaha trail instead of emerald lake though. If not emerald is still great. You pass 3 beautiful lakes on the way.

13 days ago

Went today at 8am. Amazing views and saw moose along the way. The snow is melting and is not a deterrent (even if you only have tennis shoes like my 10 and 12 y.o.).

Get there early! Tons of people on the trail on our return trip around 11am.

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