Emmaline Lake Trail

MODERATE 68 reviews
#14 of 109 trails in

Emmaline Lake Trail is a 13 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Bellvue, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

13.0 miles
2,135 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash





nature trips

trail running






From the trailhead, the trail skirts the west side of the Pingree Park Campus, on a former jeep trail for 3.5 miles to Cirque Meadowsa popular destination for visitors. There are seven designated campsites with metal fire rings below and in Cirque Meadows; before you reach the Comanche Peak Wilderness and the Emmaline Lake Travel Zone. Campsite #1 is located at the junction of the Mummy Pass Trail. In the Cirque Meadows area proper, there are four campsites east of the meadow, and two campsites across Fall Creek to the north.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike!! It was long and got rough near the end, but the lake and cirque views are worth it!

3 months ago

Up to Cirque Meadows is very easy. The aspens are changed, making much of the path very colourful.
We were confused at first about the marked campsites which are farther up the trail past the meadow-the sites were nice, site 3 has a good view.
The rest of the way was tougher, and some places we lost the trail as it wound up the boulders.
The end views are breathtaking, and great photo opportunities. I plan on going again in June when the wildflowers are bloomed.

4 months ago

I did this trail yesterday and it was absolutely stunning. The hike up to the Cirque is relatively flat and I think would be doable by most people. It is lined with aspens so would be really pretty if you catch them in turning season. The trail is very diverse-aspens, then pines, some meadows, lots of small lakes, streams, and some waterfalls, wildflowers, berries, mushrooms...it was nice and cool as well. Not crowded. The lakes surrounded by peaks and snow were beautiful blue. I think it was more like 11.4 miles, and I was shocked that it went by so easily, mostly cause a lot of it is mostly flat.

4 months ago

I consider this a get right hike. This hike has everything without being too physically demanding. It has good flat parts, good inclines, a beautiful halfway turnaround spot at the Cirque Meadows, a high alpine lake, aspens, rivers, wild flowers.

If you have been on some rough hikes this will be perfect difficulty to get you right. We started at 8:00, reached Emmaline by 10:10, and were done by 12:45. A dip in the lake was cold but surprisingly refreshing.

5 months ago

The entire elevation gain is the 3ish miles closest to the lake, where the incline hits you like a wall! We found ourselves scrambling quite a few times up and around rock walls. The lake is underwhelming, not sure if the final climb was really worth it. The weather was beautiful though, and friendly hikers and packers that we passed along the way.

6 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous, went early and had the trail to ourselves. Wild flowers are in bloom and the waterfalls are flowing. Just amazing!

6 months ago

Backpacked 2.5 in set up camp at the first campsite. Went on headed toward the lake and .3 mi from camp I encountered a large black bear. He was as startled as I was and ran off to the north. I headed back to camp and packed up and left. I did see a mother weasel carrying her baby and a whitetail buck on the return trip.

6 months ago

6 months ago

I went up for a short overnight, and the trail was beautiful! We camped at Cirque. We lost the trail a little on the way up to emmaline, but there are cairns marking the way. You shouldn't have to go over any snowfields. some muddy/wet spots but for the most part you can get around them.

We got to the meadow camping area in 1.5 hours at a decent pace. there is little elevation gain here, most of it is all in the second half of the hike.

6 months ago

Beautiful trail the whole way, and the payoff is worth the work

7 months ago

My husband and I backpacked into Cirque Meadows late Tuesday afternoon with our three year old daughter and our dog. We camped at one of the campsites there and it was beautiful with easy access to water. It was about a three mile hike from where we parked our car on the jeep trail to Cirque Meadows. We were slow letting our daughter get in and out of the carrier it took us about an hour and a half to get to camp. We hiked up to Cirque Lake and Emmaline Lake the next morning. The trail was fun to navigate with lots of trees to jump over and river crossings in the beginning. Closer to the lakes there is quite a bit of snow we put our microspikes on at one section as an extra precaution and lost the trail a couple of times due to the snow. Keep an eye out for the cairns marking the trail at the end its easy to get off in some spots on the way up. We did end up making it to both lakes and it was well worth the adventure and snow. We camped a second night too although it would have been doable for us to head back to the car and home. Right after dinner our second night we had a female moose come right into our camp site! Luckily one low bark from our dog sent her in the other direction. We ran into another group of campers who had a similar experience so be alert and aware of what to do if a moose charges especially this time of year as we saw a mother and her baby grazing in the meadow. Beautiful to watch from a far but they are not shy up there and will get too close for comfort. We had a wonderful time and want to go back later in the season.

7 months ago

Hiked to the lake last weekend (6/2-6/3) as an overnight trip. We camped in the Travel Zone at site #4. If you are planning on camping, be aware that the first two sites are shortly after the sign for the Travel Zone and then 3 and 4 are about a mile after that. They're right before the day use only sign. There was quite a bit of snow after the sign going up to the lake. With it being pretty sunny and warm during the day, the snow is soft and punchy. If you're willing to put up with some post-holing, you can definitely make it to the lake. Just follow the footprints/other postholes and be careful around rocks and if you can hear the stream gurgling underneath the snow. My hiking partner and I both ended up with soaked boots and socks because of post-holing down to the stream. Snowshoes would be helpful but it is possible without. There are also many trees down, so be prepared to climb over or under those.

7 months ago

The last .5 miles to the lake were impassable due to 2 feet of softening snow and downed trees everywhere. My friend and I teamed up with another hiker we met on the trail to attempt to reach the top, but ended up having to turn around when there was no way to hike the steep waterfall section. I would not recommended attempting for another couple of weeks at least.

However, it was really enjoyable until we were stopped! And I would love to come back to see what have been described as breathtaking views by the lake.

8 months ago

Was a decent hike. A majority of the trail has a tree line on both sides so there were not many views. This would definitely be a summer hike. The last three to four miles to the "lake" has around three foot of snow on the trail. Most of it is hard packed, but it is beginning to become soft since it's warming up.

10 months ago

beautiful place to go.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Good views and pretty ponds coming up. Very steep towards the end.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

geart place to be. worth it when you get to the lakes.

Monday, July 31, 2017

There are so many different stages to get to this lake. Dry high plains, dense forest, rainforest, Alpine meadow and finally timberline. It's beautiful. One word of advice, follow the pile ons or you will lose the trail as you leave the forest.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

really good beginner trail! and gorgeous lakes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

No camping a mile and a half from the trails end.

Wonderful hike!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

This hike is absolutely beautiful!! The first 3 miles are kinda boring, but it is soooo worth it!!
We hikes on April 8th and there is still a lot of snow! And cold at the top.
I highly recommend this hike to everyone!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The trail was one of the most diverse and rewarding I've ever been on, and the big payoff is the actual lake, and bouldering up to the rocks surrounding it for a picnic and relaxing nap. We started at Tom Bennett and just took our time checking out all the places to camp along the way, and of course, beautiful Cirque Meadows. It'll be an annual tradition, with camping next time.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Great hike - I started at the Beaver Creek/Fish Creek trailhead and hiked to Commanche Lake and back. GPS said it was 12.5 round trip (we did hike around Commanche Lake.) Great trail, easy up and downs until steep up to Commanche Lake. Beautiful scenery lots of water for the pooches. We were the only ones up there.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Great hike. Did it on Memorial Day. First leg was boring, easy. Nice walk near CSU campus, gets deeper into the valley w some views. In early september most of the aspen were gold. Some bridges to cross, not much of a grade til the meadow. After that the hike gets super hard. Be prepared! I hadn't done any long hikes this season as I spent the summer out of state. It was the hardest 2 miles of a hike I have ever done. Switchbacks so steep sometimes short people (like me) have to grab tree roots to climb it. Still just beautiful though, lush forest here with wildflowers late in the season. After a couple miles of this you will emerge from the forest, be prepared to keep an eye out for cairns. These will guide you to climb up and over the large rocks/boulders until you reach cirque lake (which is honestly the prettiest lake there) and a little further and you will reach Emmaline lake. It was too windy up there, with a dark color to the water so I went back down to cirque and to the grass shoreline patch where I laid for an hour. Lots of people up there for such a long and tough hike

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Completed this hike Labor Day Weekend. Started from the Beaver Creek Trail Head and proceeded to the Comanche Reservoir. Fairly flat in some areas, but others get you breathing hard. Reservoir is quite low, but doesn't detract too much from the nice scenery. We actually continued on to the Comanche Lake Trailhead, which proceeds up the face of the mountain and over to a wonderful mountain lake; once you cross over the river, the surroundings are much more lush, dense and wet. The hike up is strenuous at times, to be sure. But the payoff at the lake is fantastic; pristine, quiet, hardly another soul to be found. Water super clear, with gobs of 8 -12 inch trout. Only four campsites at the lake, and we lucked out by finding a vacant one. Highly recommend this hike!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The first couple of miles are a bit of a snooze fest. Once you pass that, you're deeper into the forest and that's something I prefer. I went at the end of July and it was fairly warm around noon but the afternoon drizzle came through, which was a relief. Bring a rain jacket to stick in your pack since it seems to rain a little in the afternoons in the mountains. I went about 4 miles in and turned around since I went low on water. At about that point, there are great views of the Meadow and mountains.

Monday, August 01, 2016

First half: easy, second half: moderate-strenuous. Trail has a fair amount of traffic, saw around 20+ people. About a dozen river crossings, but there were always logs to balance on. Trail is easy to follow until the end, but there are lots of cairns to guide you. About halfway there is a cluster of campgrounds (you can only camp in designated sites), some with fire rings--which are the only places you can have open fires. Past that are stove only sites. You cannot camp within about 1.5-2 miles of the lake. Dogs are okay on leashes.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The trail is easy to follow until the last mile or so, has great views throughout and the lake is an awesome payoff.

There's also 11 camping spots at the meadow and in the travel zone so it provides for a great short backpacking trail as well.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

We hiked from the trailhead to Comanche reservoir. Nice short hike, 4 miles round trip. The reservoir doesn't have a lot of area to go down to the water, but that could be because we hiked this at the end of June and there was quite a bit of runoff so the water was high.

Tip: drive straight through the Lutheran camp if you have four wheel drive. There's a trailhead further up and it was worth it to avoid hiking up that road.

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