Emerald Lake Trail [CLOSED]

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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

closed

no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. 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
icy
muddy
off trail
snow
1 day ago

If you are concerned about Social Distancing and masks you may want to reconsider. Less than 10% wearing masks. It was very easy to lose the trail due to all of the snow but if you go after 9am you should run into others that can lead the way. There was a lot of snow to go over which made it so beautiful but a little scary at times because I was there early and was not sure which way to go. I survived. Lol.

hiking
snow
2 days ago

Still a good amount of snow up near Emerald. I only had trail running shoes and they worked fine. Snow is mostly hard packed so staying on top was easy. Decent amount of folks out on a Friday afternoon but only one bottleneck where the trail follows a single track over a snowy steep section. Beautiful views up top and still some good sledding up top.

hiking
icy
snow
2 days ago

Hiked 5/29/20. Traction devices highly desirable, but there were people doing without. About 10 good slushy ice/snow patches up to Dream and then from Dream to Emerald almost all snow covered. Easy to lose the trail the last .25 mile to Emerald, but plenty of people on the trail to help in easily locating. Emerald was beautiful.

hiking
muddy
snow
2 days ago

Emerald lake was pretty, but the snow and the crowds made it a bit less enjoyable. My partner and I were some of the small % of people wearing masks, and we had to step off to the side of the trail at least 30 times in order to keep at least 6 feet between people. Coronavirus is still real, and on a busy trail like this it is something to be concerned of. We thought emerald might be more serene and secluded, but it seemed more crowded and like people had less room to spread out around the lake due to the snow. If you don’t have spikes or hiking poles, and you don’t like hiking in snow, stick to Dream Lake. Out of safety for you and others on the trail, please wear a mask, at least when you see people nearing you that will need to pass by! The way up from Dream to Emerald was slick and slushy at times as the sun melted down on the snow. I’d rate it intermediate.

hiking
icy
snow
3 days ago

Beautiful hike. I wore spikes and was easily able to do the trail. People without them were really struggling though. Snowshoes are not needed.

hiking
snow
4 days ago

Hiked this on the day of re-opening. Quite a bit of snow on the trail -- in fact, we were only able to make it to Nymph Lake with just hiking shoes. We attempted to get to Dream Lake, but the snow drifts were too large (my son submerged a leg all the way to his waist) and the trail hard to discern. We were told by the rangers that Emerald Lake simply wasn't possible right now. Having said all of this, we really enjoyed the portion we were able to hike, and even found a small waterfall to enjoy and take a refreshing drink.

hiking
6 days ago

A little busy in the summer but extremely rewarding and has the opportunity to hit several other lakes along the way.

hiking
9 days ago

Hiked this back in august and it was fantastic. Probably my favorite hike in all RMNP.

hiking
rocky
21 days ago

Hiked 9/5/2019. Amazing hike, a must-do if you’re in the area. Crowded. Incredible views.

hiking
1 month ago

We did this in the winter. We rented snowshoes that was really fun. Only $5 for the day and it allows us to walk off trail if we so pleased. I don’t recommend doing this in the winter without some sort of snow equipment. Lake views at the bottom of the valley are incredible. Definitely want to come back in the summer

hiking
1 month ago

5-star views 3-star for foot traffic

hiking
snow
1 month ago

One of the most tramped upon trails surely, but don’t miss this trail. Locals will have their favorites and spurn this trail due to crowds, but this is a must see/must experience. The beauty and awe of the bench mark lakes increases as you climb, and the pinnacle is truly Emerald Lake at the top; a Shangrila of a place... a beautiful pool surrounded by cathedral rocks. Spectacular!

1 month ago

Completed 5/24/19. Fun short hike up to one of the most epic views in the rockies. Parking was tough.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Did this hike about a week ago and its truly amazing. Worth the extra milage for sure. Dream Lake and Emerald Lake together perfectly capture both the beauty and majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park.

hiking
icy
snow
2 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! You need spikes. The trail is well packed so snow shoes aren't as ideal. Poles are good though. The views are amazing!

hiking
icy
snow
2 months ago

Packed snow throughout the trail. Easy enough with micro spikes. Would not recommend doing this without traction devices! As the day progresses, snow get more slushy.

hiking
2 months ago

Hikes this trail yesterday and it was beautiful! We arrived to bear lake trail head at 8:30am. By time we left around 11:30 am, the parking lot was completely full & packed. The hike up was beautiful and easy with traction devices and polls, however on the way back the snow was softened and more difficult to navigate. I highly recommend arriving by 8/8:30 am & using traction devices.

hiking
icy
snow
2 months ago

Traction devices are a must. Go as early as you’re able, the exported western portion of the trail turns to complete slush by noon.

backpacking
icy
snow
2 months ago

Trail was great today, but definitely packed down and icey. I recommend mirco spikes or similar to make this Trail easier. However a couple behind me made it without traction devices.

hiking
icy
snow
2 months ago

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