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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

fishing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

forest

lake

partially paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day. 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.

6 hours ago

It was an enjoyable hike although the best part of this hike was dream lake not Emerald. very busy with other people but I would recommend.

hiking
bugs
great!
23 hours ago

hiking
1 day ago

CROWDED. Which isn’t unexpected from the Bear Lake trailhead of course, but be prepared. Signs on the way in said the Bear Lake parking lot was full, but we chanced it with a 2:00 pm arrival during a rain storm and found plenty of parking. We went up to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes, each more pretty than the last. Gorgeous scenery at the top with lovely waterfalls as you ascend. But very crowded with long queues around photo spots and bad trail etiquette. I wish we could have sat and took in the views, but nobody was giving any space.

hiking
snow
1 day ago

This was such a scenic trail. Loved viewing all 3 lakes within this trail.

hiking
1 day ago

This was my favorite hike in RMNP. It was definitely crowded but worth it. My husband and I took our 3 children (ages 9 and 6) to the other side of Emerald Lake where we jumped in the crystal clear water, with snow right behind us. Our children loved throwing snow balls!

hiking
1 day ago

Gorgeous hike. Did it w my 10 and 6 year old daughters. Only issue that kept this from a 5 was the crowds, which even in a restricted capacity of COVID were greater than i would have liked.

The most beautiful lakes for minimal effort. We didn’t go to Lake Haiyaha but did the loop around Bear Lake to start. Very crowded on a Friday at 10 AM but we were expecting it so no biggie. Tons of spots to sit and take in the views at all lakes!

2 days ago

Beautiful & Slightly strenuous (mostly upward incline going in) hike with great views. Three lovely lakes (Nymph lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake) and a flowing Creek. One of the most scenic & easier hikes in RMNP.

hiking
3 days ago

Fun little trek! The trail is beautiful in October. Enjoy!

recorded Lake Haiyaha

hiking
rocky
3 days ago

hiking
3 days ago

Great trail for us beginner level hikers, including our 9 year old. It was very busy and we needed to wear a mask at more congested spots but for the most part, we were able to keep our distance and go at our own pace. So many lakes, creeks, and waterfalls along the way. Some snow along the trail which we considered to be a plus, but there is a section that is a little slippery right before you get to Emerald lake. We stopped for a picnic and rested for about 15 minutes at Emerald Lake so all in all, it took us about 2.5 hours there and back. This is a steady incline the entire way and we are not adjusted to altitude so this hike was definitely moderate to us. Highly recommend!

hiking
3 days ago

We were fortunate to get a parking spot at the trailhead. We started the hike around 5:00pm. Most of the crowd was heading out. Nice well maintained trail with beautiful views of the lakes along the way. We ended the hike by walking around Bear lake at the end. Very pretty.

hiking
3 days ago

Very good! I totally recommend this.

hiking
3 days ago

So I’ve spent the last week at the Rocky Mountain national Park and decided to take a day trip to Manitou Springs to hike pikes Peak and I would say that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. This was by far the best hike I think I’ve ever done. I really enjoyed it! I’m a solo hiker and I started around 5:30 in the morning. A lot of people said that the first 3 miles were the hardest but it wasn’t too bad honestly. I would like to say that I didn’t think that the incline was too intense at any point of climbing pikes. I will say that once I got a couple miles from the top it was a little bit more challenging just because of the altitude but make sure to do deep breathing exercises take your time and I had no issues at all. I will say the construction at the very top with a little frustrating just because they require you to take a mile detour down to the road and then finish hiking your way back up on the road. I did convince the construction workers to let me walk past towards the right though and it brought me right to the summit house. Also after this trail you have to try their donuts as a reward for getting your butt all the way to the top of the mountain! Do this trail! I did read that this trail has the potential to be slightly miserable if the weather isn’t nice and I really lucked out because it was chilly, not too hot, not too windy and no storms.

4 days ago

We did the Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake trail. Fantastic views throughout for my photography bug husband. Bear Lake was a breeze, but the hike to Emerald Lake was a little strenuous for us 50+ flatlanders. But we made it, and coming back was a breeze. We were able to park in the Bear Lake lot at 2Pm, eventhough the sign said it was full. The trails were crowded, and only about 25% wearing masks. But still worth every step for the views!

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful walk today with 9 and 5 yo. Trail wasn’t super crowded And hikers were mindful of trying to keep 6 feet apart. Trail super well maintained.

hiking
4 days ago

Gorgeous. We did it with a 6 and 8 year old. Just took breaks as needed on the way up. We started at 4:30 and we’re back at shuttle at 6:30. Kids were obsessed with getting to touch snow. Lots of water streams and easy hike all downhill on the way back. Pretty busy even at that time so we wore our masks. Highly recommend.

hiking
great!
5 days ago

Quick and easy hike with great views of multiple lakes. Up and down in under two hours.

hiking
5 days ago

A great moderate hike with stunning views! Highly recommended!

5 days ago

I went about 5pm, pleasant hike. All of the scenery and lakes are beautiful. but Emerald lake is amazing! The hike is Easy to Moderate. Some snow still on the trail. Plan for some time at the lake, it's very relaxing.

hiking
5 days ago

A beautiful scenery and worth everything. For all hike lovers I recommend going to Bear Lake before 7am or after 2:30pm. I went at 11am and they would not let us in, the parking lot was full. While we waited we hiked Gem Lake. After that (3:30pm) we went to Bear Lake. I recommend hiking to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and then Emerald Lake. This took us less than 1hr 40min. Enjoy!

hiking
5 days ago

The scenery and hike are amazing but wow! No type of control or restrictions during covid. It was very difficult to relax around so many people, I couldn’t believe they made 20+ people get on a small bus during a pandemic

hiking
6 days ago

Definitely crowded, but it was absolutely beautiful. Still a bit of snow left.

hiking
6 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike & lake! Took about 1 1/2hrs to complete. It’s a busy trail in the popular part of RMNP but worth the hike if you go early. There was still some ice on the ground and was muddy in some parts. You can do this with tennis shoes but hiking boots make it easier.

hiking
great!
muddy
snow
6 days ago

This is a nice hike past three lakes. Each lake has its own beauty with views of the nearby mountains. Pretty crowded trail as it is not too difficult and in the Bear Lake area. The lakes are worth the crowds.

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

Just small amounts of snow left. Pretty crowded even early. Highly recommend arriving before 6:30 am. Nice little hike after doing some more challenging ones earlier in trip. Wear a mask - path narrow and lots of people.

hiking
6 days ago

The lakes are beautiful, but this is a very crowded trail. Go early to avoid the crowds.

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