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Gem Trail to Balanced Rock

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Gem Trail to Balanced Rock is a 7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until August.

Distance: 7.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,696 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day.

hiking
15 days ago

Busy up until Gem Lake. Then a nice quiet hike to the rock

The trail to gem lake is great and it’s a gorgeous little area. Continuing to balanced rock was tedious and kind of boring. There wasn’t much for views because of the trees and the balanced rock was pretty underwhelming. The trail was fairly flat and uninteresting until the decent to balanced rock (and the climb back up). If you just want to add some distance on, I’d recommend doing another hike nearby. It was very unpopular though, so if you’re looking for solitude, this is a good option.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Trail is not closed. Steep rock steps getting up to Gem lake. Then lots of downhill (which you have to climb up on the way back) to get to Balanced Rock. Crowded trail up to Gem Lake, but not very many people on Trail from Gem to Balanced Rock. Beautiful aspen groves and unusual rock formations. Stunning views of Estes Park and the front range. According to trail signs, this is an 8 mile there and back trail.

hiking
5 months ago

Same conditions as previous review: mostly ice from trailhead to Gem Lake, snow from Gem to Balanced Rock. Spikes pretty much necessary, lots of people falling when we were there. Most people turn around at Gem Lake, so you are likely to have the trail to Balanced Rock to yourself even on a weekend (at least during the winter).

hiking
rocky
snow
5 months ago

Patchy ice to Gem Lake, then compacted snow to Balanced Rock. Was able to get from the trailhead to Gem Lake without any additional traction. Used Yaktrax from Gem to Balanced Rock and then all the way back down just to be safe. Great weather and conditions overall.

recorded Gem Trail to Balanced Rock

hiking
blowdown
icy
snow
5 months ago

icy
snow
6 months ago

Completed the hike to Gem Lake and onto Balanced Rock on Sunday January 5, 2020. The trail had patchy ice, so microspikes (not yaktrax) are highly recommended. It was very desolate beyond Gem Lake- I didn't see a single person, just fresh mountain lion tracks.

hiking
rocky
snow
6 months ago

Lovely trail. Perfect snow conditions for hiking. No snow shoes needed. Great views. Turned around at little lake.

hiking
snow
6 months ago

great day. nice alternative to Flattop because of the wind. bushwhacked back from Balance rock.

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

Nice hike. Bring traction.

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

Didn’t make it all the way to the rocks but will be back.

hiking
icy
8 months ago

Hiked trail on Nov 6. Distance is 8 miles per two gps and park trail map. Traction devices needed.

hiking
snow
8 months ago

hiking
off trail
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

did this hike on 9/14/19 Hike to gem lake has great views of Estes plus the surrounding peaks and gem lake is breathtaking. foot traffic is pretty dense up to gem lake unless you get there early but dies down quite a bit when you pass to balanced rock. Some steep inclines at the beginning but dies down passed the lake also, can be a little challenging for some but if you take your time is very doable for most great hike that a must do if in the area

hiking
10 months ago

parked on Friday morning 8/30 @ 1030 with no problem. lot only 1/3-1/2 full. bathrooms at trail head and also a little before gem lake. trail is well maintained. trail from gem lake to balanced rock was not really we marked. we got to lake and I told me friend I thought the trail continued on. we walked on side of lake without all the rocks and found the trail and kept going. trail was really nice. only a couple folks kept going. it has some good incline on the trail. at some points steep stairs. the rock was fun to see and nice spot to stop and eat lunch.

A beautiful hike all the way through. The trails are well marked and maintained. Past Gem Lake it became very peaceful with few people choosing to hike farther.

hiking
11 months ago

Nice hike. The good thing is that the majority of the elevation is at the front.

hiking
11 months ago

A good low elevation hike. The balanced rock is pretty neat to see and the trail from Gem lake to the end is peaceful. If you’re looking for a quiet hike with some hills, this is it.

Most of it was through the woods without a huge payoff view at the end. You’re better off just hitting gem lake and turning back.

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