Trails.com is merging with AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 3413 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

fishing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

partially paved

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
snow
2 days ago

This trail was great. On emerald lake the wind was incredibly strong so be prepared. I made the trek with just snow boots but am fairly fit so I don’t feel spikes or snow shoes are necessary. Take your time, at some spots it can get a little dicey

hiking
snow
5 days ago

Went this past weekend and all I can say is what a stunning hike! We arrived around 9:30am and the parking lot was about half full. I am not sure if it's usually like that or if it was a slow weekend, but we had no problem with the parking. We used spikes and it made things a lot easier. I don't believe snow shoes were necessary. Right before you get to Emerald Lake, the snow is a little deep, but it's a very small patch. Once you reach Dream Lake and Emerald Lake, it is extremely windy so be prepared for that. The wind was strong enough to push us a few times! Overall, amazing trail.

recorded Emerald Lake Trail

hiking
9 days ago

12/2/19 - awesome hike with amazing views. Micro spikes used. Brought snow shoes but didn’t need.

hiking
10 days ago

12/1/19- such a beautiful hike! started around 11:30 and trail was pretty packed down from the trailhead to dream lake so you could do it with just micro spikes, but from dream to emerald snowshoes were pretty necessary. I’d wear snow shoes for the entire hike to make things easier. snow is deep if you step off trail at all. Very windy at the lakes so be prepared for that. Also when you cross Nymph lake and go up the hill take the path to the left, there are tracks that go to the right but that’s a dead end

hiking
icy
scramble
snow
10 days ago

12/1/19 I started hiking on the trail before Sunrise, and apparently there was a lot of fresh snow that landed last night. The Trail is not compact at all in most places and you sink into waist deep about halfway to Emerald Lake. Even people with snow shoes were struggling ahead of me, but I ended up not making it this time because I didn't have snow shoes, only micro spikes. Overall still a great hike, just bad condition today

hiking
12 days ago

Great trail. Luckily snow was packed down, still thankful for our micro spikes as many places can be slick. Beautiful views. Heavily trafficked. Recommend getting there early!

12 days ago

Hiked this today and it was amazing! the views are outstanding. Brought snownshoes but sidnt need them. spikes were definitely helpful.

hiking
icy
snow
13 days ago

Clear day, minimal wind. Definitely needed microspikes.

hiking
15 days ago

Fantastic. Can't imagine doing without microspikes though

hiking
snow
18 days ago

Great distance and beautiful lakes! Definitely wear spikes on your shoes to get the most out of it

hiking
snow
18 days ago

Beautiful! Very windy at Emerald Lake.

hiking
23 days ago

Lovely hike! Its snow packed most of the way. I had Yak Tracks and my friend had spikes.... 90% of the time I was ok, but the spikes definitely made a huge difference.

recorded Emerald Lake Trail

hiking
icy
snow
23 days ago

It was a gorgeous hike on 11.18.19, a Monday morning. All parking lots I passed had plenty of parking, including Bear Lake. Hike was snow packed up to Dream Lake and then snow packed and icy to Emerald. Microspikes made a huge difference! I can’t believe anyone was trying to hike without them. There was one spot near Emerald that looked like an ice chute. With the right gear, it’s a perfect little hike!

hiking
icy
snow
23 days ago

Nice, pretty easy hike. We hiked this trail on 11/17 and spikes were very helpful - I wouldn’t do it without them. The best part of this hike is actually Dream Lake - it’s quite stunning.

hiking
icy
snow
24 days ago

This is a rad trail. It's also probably the most trafficked trail in it's section of RMNP. Definitely worth it, but check out different ways of completing it (starting at glacial gorge is really cool and extends the trail a couple miles). Views are incredible.

hiking
snow
24 days ago

Hiked it in March in 2ft of fresh snow at sunrise. Amazing views all around.

hiking
icy
snow
25 days ago

Amazing trail, best hike I've ever been on. Gorgeous views every turn you make. My wife and I hiked on Thur. 11/14. We showed up at 8:45 to a near empty parking lot, when we left around 1:00 there were still dozens of spots. We rented spikes and poles from a local shop and the spikes were nearly essential (some very icy uphill spots) but we could have gone without the poles. Highly recommend completing the whole trail to emerald lake for an out of this world view.

hiking
25 days ago

Just a great trail. It's beautiful in every direction. All three lakes were iced over today. The trail is snow packed and very icy in some spots. Five in our crew. My wife and I were good with Micro spikes. our kids, 7,6, and 5 had regular kid boots and they struggled in some places. Had they had spikes as well they would have been fine. Please be prepared if you hike this trail, the wind can be rough at the top. A lot of the hikers we met on the trail just had tennis shoes, sweatshirts, no gloves...…..they were not enjoying themselves much. You need cold weather gear, spikes and plenty of water. it's a great trail if you are prepared.

26 days ago

absolutely stunning hike..

hiking
snow
30 days ago

It should be a 5-star hike due to the stunning scenery, but there are way too many people on this trail. Only go if you don't mind crowds in the wilderness. Very easy trail that was icy, but manageable.

hiking
icy
snow
30 days ago

Absolutely beautiful! I hiked the trail on 21.10 and today (12.11.). On 21.10 it snowed and you had little visibility. Nevertheless, the way was great. Today it was extremely windy and the road is extremely slippery in places! Definitely with spikes and best still sticks! On Emerald Lake itself, it was unbearable because of the wind. But the Dream Lake before was really nice * love * The trail is usually easy to spot

Load More