Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 1,376 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.

8 hours ago

Very busy due to the popularity, but an amazingly scenic hike. Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes are all beautiful. My 8 and 5 year olds handled the hike just fine.

hiking
8 hours ago

Beautiful and so fun to fish at, really enjoyed it

11 hours ago

Stunning! We started on the Emerald Lake Trail, and then we took the Lake Haiyaha trail on our way back. When we left Lake Haiyaha, we took the trail back to the Glacier Gorge bus stop. It was lovely!

Emerald Lake Trail itself was easy if you were in shape and moderate if you aren’t. It’s well-maintained.

FYI - The parking lot is usually full by 7 or 7:30. Otherwise, you’ll have to park at the shuttle station and ride up. Shuttles run every seven minutes or so. They cram them full of people.

hiking
13 hours ago

One of the MUST HIKES in the park in my opinion. Short, relatively easy hike that rewards you with breathtaking views. I rate it as EASY for experienced hikers and MODERATE for families. Do not stop at Dream Lake... go to the top, it is worth the extra 20 minutes or so. I recommend a sunrise hike to avoid crowds. Parking becomes rare after 7am in the summer so be prepared to take the shuttle if you sleep in. Mosquitos are a problem at the lakes in the morning, so plan accordingly to enjoy your time there. I suggest this as a first hike of the day, then go elsewhere when the buses begin to run. Enjoy!

1 day ago

Beautiful.

hiking
1 day ago

Listed well as a moderate hike. The views were breathtaking, and there are plenty of areas to stop and rest, if needed. As already mentioned, arrive very early (around 7AM) or later in the afternoon (after 5) to avoid the crowd and find parking. Definitely a hiking must for anyone visiting or in the area!

1 day ago

It was amazing! Very well marked trail. The lakes are evenly spaced out so you hike a little, then see a beautiful lake, hike a little more, see another one, and then hike a little further and you’re lead to the grand finally. Definitely recommend! Very rewarding!

hiking
2 days ago

As a first timer to the Rockies this was a nice easy introduction to the park, but start early to avoid high traffic. Arrived at trailhead around 6:30 on Saturday 7/14 and lot was half full. If you want more challenge and a more beautiful scenic lake, take the trail to Lake Haiyaha where the trail splits at Dream Lake, either after Dream or coming back from Emerald. The views going up are more breathtaking and more iconic than what you would see going to Emerald.

2 days ago

High traffic beautiful scenery but if you want solitude and a challenge for a 20-25 year old it is not what you are looking for.

2 days ago

Unbelievably amazing hike! Steady inclines at times but overall a pretty doable trail by anyone.
I arrived at 6:30pm on a Saturday and the parking had empty spots. Saw a ton of people at the beginning of the trail but the further you go the less people you’ll see.
A lot of bugs when you hike at a later time so bring some bug spray with you! Also, bring a flashlight just in case you need it!

hiking
3 days ago

great hike, with views iconic to colorado - when you see colorado in a photo album, this trail contains views that showcases this.

hiking
4 days ago

Gorgeous views from a reasonably short trail. Lots of wildlife along the way!

hiking
4 days ago

I did the emerald Lake route . I’m not sure why they called it moderate? It’s a nice 45 min stroll to the lake on a amazingly maintained trail, even paved at the beginning. It’s a great trail for families and young ones . If you want more of a challenge hike around the right side of emerald Lake. It is what I would call a very stable rock scramble and doable by older kids with good shoes( some traction on Btm). Then hike up to the falls which are really pretty . That extension makes the hike moderate and is well worth it plus it’s gets you away from the masses . If you are really an extremist then try hiking up the valley to the right of the river and falls. It is an advanced hike and gets to class 3-4 with 80% grade. Tougher going up but you need poles coming down or you take some falls . Do not hike in single file here as you will trigger rock slides due to grade. Also it is what I’d call a loose rock scramble!! Views are insane from up there but be careful as footing is tricky and it requires some rock climbing .

4 days ago

We loved this hike! Perfect hike for a day. On a Friday there were others out there but not a ton. Go to the end. Emerald Lake is worth it!

hiking
4 days ago

Easy, busy, but beautiful for sure

hiking
5 days ago

Super fun and easy!

6 days ago

Cool hike do early morning or at after 5 to avoid crowd. 3 cool lakes. Keep going to see the last view!

6 days ago

If you’re not from Colorado, or used to the elevation, this trail may be a bit harder than easy. I dragged my brother through this one, all the way up to Emerald lake. We started with Bear lake loop and then headed upwards from the trail head. You’ll pass Dream lake on the way. Everything is gorgeous. This trail was highly trafficked but well worth it to see Emerald lake. If you have the gear, time, and skill level, you could continue hiking up the rock walls on the left side of Emerald lake and connect to other trails.

hiking
8 days ago

Beautiful views and water areas.

8 days ago

Great views and a decently challenging hike for those who don't have all day but definitely want to sweat a little!

9 days ago

Easy hike with beautiful views. But would never hike this again on a Saturday in peak season- kinda killed it

9 days ago

Good hike, not too challenging, but that's why it's so popular. Add Lake Haiyaha either after Dream Lake or coming back down from Emerald and make it a spectacular 4 lake loop. Get there early so you can park, and be courteous on the trail when it's more crowded (walk single file to the right, don't block the way).

9 days ago

Great hike- too busy

11 days ago

This is a pretty busy hike, but it was fun to meet people on the trail. Amazing view at Emerald lake!

hiking
11 days ago

Agree with all previous comments. It’s a zoo. Early means 6am at the latest. I got lucky today and took advice to start at Bierstadt Lake trailhead. RMNP allows roadside parking here. I walked to the trail, did a trail run that connected to Bear Lake and then ascended to Emerald. Took the shuttle to Bierstadt trail. The park was limiting cars when I drove out. Go super early till late September.

12 days ago

Beyond amazing views! It was a fairly easy hike for my husband and I. There was a lot of foot traffic. We made it to the top and then decided we wanted to see more so we went to Lake Haiyaha, which was a different trail but both were extremely worth it! I highly recommend using bug spray!

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful hike passing 3 other lakes on the way. Worth the effort!

hiking
14 days ago

One of my favorite hikes in the park even though it gets busy. Gorgeous views and lots of lakes and waterfalls to keep the kids engaged. Saw rabbit, numerous chipmunks, a trout in Dream lake and a beautiful unknown species of bird.

14 days ago

Amazing views and lookouts along the way. Emerald lake is enclosed, there’s no grand lookout at the end. Still very pretty. My husband and I jogged the way back, took us about an hour out and back (and we’re from flat Texas

hiking
14 days ago

What an amazing hike. The views at all three lakes are astounding. However, emerald lake takes the cake as the best view. Advice for this hike, get there early. We arrived at the park around 7:00 and the hike was open and relaxing going up, but coming down.

Load More