Emmaline Lake Trail

MODERATE 54 reviews
#12 of 108 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.

13.0 miles
2135 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly





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.

4 days 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.

14 days 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.

16 days 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.

1 month ago

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

3 months ago

beautiful place to go.

9 months ago

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

9 months ago

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

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

really good beginner trail! and gorgeous lakes.

11 months ago

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

Wonderful hike!

11 months ago

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.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This is probably one of the top five hikes I've done. The trail is beautiful and challenging, varied and hard to find the last 1-2 miles.

We hiked it in late June and there was still quite a bit of snow. We ended up bush-whacking and scrambling the last half mile or so because we couldn't find the trail (probably due to the snow). It was completely worth it!

If you are unsure of the trail, climb the ridge up from the right side. If you hike this in early summer bring some waterproof boots.

We started from the trailhead near Tom Bennett campground, which made it probably around 12 miles round trip, but I think you can start from a connector trail in CSU's mountain campus that would cut about 2-4 miles off of it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Started trail at 8:30am got to lake at 12:05pm. Back to car at 2:45pm. Trail was lost once but found it ok. This is a NO-fishing area due to green back cuthroat repopulate program, I did not know this. At the first large campground the trail veers to the right, horses are not allowed past this point because of low clearings (dead trees hanging over trail) and tricky stream crossings. Great trail for dogs, rain was nice once we got back into tree cover. Trail ok for pack goats, llamas may have a hard time in the boulder field, donkeys may not make it up.

Friday, August 28, 2015

I finally got to do this trail this week. I started at about 7:45am and got to the top at around 11:30pm. It starts off on a mellow jeep trail that continues to the cirque lakes. Breathtaking views when you get there. It then continues into denser wooded areas with switchbacks and steeper climbs. Lots of wildflowers around this time of year. I had 2 dogs with me and they managed the hike just fine. One thing to note though, an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in at 12:00pm on the dot as I was finishing up lunch. Had to run back down through the rain and thunder. No lightning fortunately but I would of ideally started an hour early to avoid that.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

absolutely stunning at the cirque and the lakes! and the climb up? a good workout and grateful for the cairns! wildflowers in abundance...gorgeous! now, the first part? meh. it's pretty but honestly kinda boring.

Friday, July 03, 2015

I loved this hike! The weather was perfect and the views are amazing. Even if you don't go all the way to the lake, cirque meadows is halfway and definitely worth seeing. The last 2 miles are a pretty steep climb in some areas. There were some moose pretty close to the trail at one point. There were several streams on the trail and most of it was shared by trees which was great for my dog.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An amazing place to to backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, and even skiing in the winter. I go here every summer to hike and camp and it is heaven. There are plenty of places to visit, meadows, streams, and the Poudre River is down the road. On the south side, there are plenty of peaks that offer gorgeous views and even a climbing opportunity if you're into that. There are plenty of animals, deer, elk herds from RMNP, bear, mountain lions if you are lucky enough to see them, coyotes, and my personal favorite, moose. It's a great place for a solo trip or a family/friends trip.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I loved this hike...at the top. It was a challenge to continually be going up with not much straight aways, but the views at the top were well worth it.

Monday, September 02, 2013

I loved this hike, although next time I would pack in and spend the night, then hike to the lakes in the morning. This trail is pretty remote, and while we didn't see any wildlife, there were plenty of signs of them. The last mile you have to basically just keep your eyes peeled for cairns at all times- they' were easy spot as long as you were looking for them, and we climbed to treeline in no time. The first lake is Cirque Lake with beautiful blue and green hues, and then a short scramble over a boulder brings you to Lake Emmaline. Both are very beautiful and serene, as the trail usage is light.

Monday, July 15, 2013

We completed the Comanche Reservoir Trail which is approx. 5 miles roundtrip. This is a beautiful trail for a fall hike. Lots of foliage and we even seen a herd of five moose that were approx. 100 yards away. The lake was very low due to the drought. This is a wonderful area to hike. You may also check out the Browns Lake Trail hike I have completed where you can connect up with this hike if you want.

trail running
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trailhead close to CSU's Pingree Park Campus... First 2 miles or so appear to be an old access road, mild grade. Road passes by some camp site areas and crosses a creek. Once it crosses the creek, trail is more narrow. Eventually climbs about 2000 (fairly certain - definitely not more than 2500) ft in 5.7 miles to reach 2 small lakes. Emmaline is at the end of the trail, only about another quarter mile past the first little lake. Good tree cover, two creek crossings and water at the end (if you have a dog, like I do). Pretty! Trailhead rated it as 'strenuous' but I don't know that I would agree - but guess that's really based on individual fitness level, huh?

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