Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 957 reviews

Emerald Lake Trail is a 3.2 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
3.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
620 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.

5 days ago

A really beautiful, easier hike. Snow is pretty packed down but I would suggest wearing yaktrax- I don’t think snowshoes are necessarily needed. It would be really difficult to do in just hiking boots though because of all of the uphill.

snowshoeing
7 days ago

The weather was windy & cold by the time we made it to Emerald Lake and not super crowded with snowshoers. There were some steep areas to get up and down with the shoes on, but we managed. The lake was frozen and super windy...we were there at 4pm and didn’t see anyone else on our way back to Bear Lake. Kinda nice being the last ones on the trail, went off trail to get some real snowshoeing done before hitting f the parking lot! Great time and a great weather day if you are prepared and bundled up!

hiking
7 days ago

It was perfect weather and it was gorgeous! We used snowshoes in some of the uphill parts. Traction would be best, but you could do it in just hiking boots. The view was beautiful and tons of deep powder. It was windy and cold, but sunny and it stopped snowing. It’s a must see view!

7 days ago

It was absolutely gorgeous. Went in early June, there was a little snow on the ground but the temperatures were great for hiking.
Could be a little tough for young or out-of-shape hikers, but other than that an excellent, beautiful hike.

9 days ago

Great trail! Little adjustment to elevation for people not used to it. Today started out good then as we approached Dream Lake complete white out. Beware today the weather is coming in. Winds are high and surpassing Dream Lake is impossible right now, at least safely.

13 days ago

Beautiful!! Hike early to avoid storms

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful! A bit windy, but the views were amazing. Used Yaktrax and they came in handy.

hiking
14 days ago

Windy on the lakes and lots of snow up there even though there has been little snowfall for a while. Highly recommend snowshoes. Always a great hike! Get out early to beat the crowds.

19 days ago

Used micro spikes. Beautiful views.

hiking
22 days ago

Compacted snow all the way up, microspikes or yaktrax recommended.. snowshoes are optional. It’s not a very hard trail but uphill one way. There’s some areas where the trail splits in two but they meet back up 50-200ft later. It was windy but that wasn’t an issue except the windchill.

22 days ago

good hike. Just had spikes on.

hiking
22 days ago

Hiked the trail on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Definitely needed our spikes for foot traction as the trail was icy from being packed and some mild melting. Can’t wait to return in warm weather to experience the trail and Emerald Lake during another season.

snowshoeing
22 days ago

We went this morning and were happy to have rented snowshoes and poles ($6/person at Estes Park Mountain Shop), though spikes would have been fine too. The snow was decently packed, but it was more fun to venture off-trail with snowshoes. Very windy at Dream Lake, but Emerald Lake was peaceful and stunning as always.

hiking
23 days ago

Great hike! Only 1.8 miles from the Bear lake trail head/parking lot. Probably should have listened and wore spikes however it wasn't impossible without them. It's also only about a half mile or so from Dream Lake and it's definitely worth going a little further to see. Very secluded and beautiful. 10/10!!

28 days ago

So beautiful! Did this on December 13th and definitely needed yak tracks. Everyone I passed not using them struggled to make it to the top. With them it’s really easy.

hiking
29 days ago

Winter Wonder land this time of year. In my opinion crampons are a must as parts of the trail were a sheet of ice and the entire trail is either that or snow packed. Was able to walk on Nymph, Dream and Emerald. Did not have time to make it to Lake Haiyaha as we did Cub Lake before. It is so beautiful in winter like a while new place from its beautiful summer look. This is the first place I'd take someone if I wanted to show them the beauty of Colorado as all skill levels can make it.

This trail is super easy and mild. Parking at park is usually full since this is such an easy trail. Very busy. Lake is pretty. Quick stop off if on way in or out of park. Super short

hiking
1 month ago

This is such an awesome trail with incredible views!! We went two days after it snowed in the middle of December and after reading other reviews I was worried it wouldn't be manageable without spikes or good hiking shoes. 3 of my friends had on Bean boots and I wore regular snow boots and we made it through the entire hike. That being said, microspikes/chains would have been super helpful for the snowy spots as some were very compact with ice. Overall I highly recommend this trail. It's perfect for showing your out of town friends some awesome views. It took us about 3.5 hours total because we stopped and took in the views every chance we could

hiking
1 month ago

Easy, but can get pretty crowded! combined this with the lake hiayaha trail, as our first day in RMNP! Beautifulll!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Very easy with some microspikes/crampons. A beautiful, wintery wonderland!

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