Gem Trail to Balanced Rock is a 7 mile lightly 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 birding and is best used from March until August.

DISTANCE
7.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,696 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

3 hours ago

completed this trail on 12/10. Some icy patches on the way to gem lake, then powdery snow from that point to balanced rock.
anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow. I did use my gaiters and yaktraks.
overall a very nice day with temperatures in the low 40s.

hiking
21 days ago

Great day hike, well traveled to gem lake. Ice on some of the switchbacks. Less traveled but still easy to navigate the trail to balanced rock. Yaktrax were beneficial in ice and snow covered areas. 11/19/18

2 months ago

Very nice hike.

2 months ago

Beautiful! It’s definitely not an easy hike but so worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

This was probably the most beautiful, versatile, quiet, and peaceful trail I’ve been on. Everywhere I looked there was beauty and this trail had me taking photos every few steps. We started this trail around 7 in the morning and got to gem lake around 10. We stopped A LOT. There were only 2 other groups of 2 at the lake. We were the only ones on the trail to balanced rock. It was soooo peaceful! So many neat things to see. This trail was very shaded on the way in. Had lunch on some boulders with balanced rock in our sights. Headed back and once we reached gem lake again, the trail was heavily trafficked back to the parking lot. I highly recommend this trail for nature lovers but not for the out-of-shape.

3 months ago

Good hike. Loved the massive boulders. My 10 year old did this with me and we were probably the third hikers to Balanced rock this morning. We had the lake all to ourselves with a few friendly chipmunks. It rained on our way back to gem lake TH but we saw more people climbing up to the lake. The rain helped cool us down as there were a few steep climbs on this trail.

hiking
5 months ago

On our way out, we had the trails almost completely to ourselves. Balanced Rock was worth seeing, but definitely an uphill climb back to Gem Lake. And, once we made it back to Gem Lake, it was later in the day and more crowded. Overall, it was a beautiful hike that I'd definitely recommend.

hiking
6 months ago

An amazing short 1.7 miles to the little lake. It’s beautiful and worth the climb. Suitable for all ages and experience levels.

hiking
9 months ago

The hike to Gem Lake is steep and difficult, but the views are worth the effort. Beyond the lake, the trail passes through fairly dense trees. Views are limited and it is extremely hot in the summer time. Also the trail was unclear in places causing us to question if we were on the right path. As others have mentioned, there were few people beyond the lake. We found balanced rock to be underwhelming. We would recommend stopping at the lake for a while then heading back down the trail.

hiking
9 months ago

Cloudy and snowy morning BUT a hike I’d love to do again. No snowshoes needed at all. I did throw on my Yak Tracks once passing Gem Lake. The light morning snow made the hardened ice on some parts of the trail difficult to see. Like others have noted, I had the trail to myself from Gem Lake to Balanced Rock - very peaceful. Heading back from Gem Lake to the TH the sun was already making quick work of the snow from the morning.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

great views all around. Past Jem lake to balanced rock hardly anyone around.

hiking
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

P.S. - The sign at the beginning said no horses.

hiking
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Parking lot was pretty empty at 7:40am on a weekday. Only saw about 4 groups as I was headed up to Gem Lake. I had Gem Lake to myself for about 20 minutes! That's rare. Then I went on to Balanced Rock. Most of the way there is downhill from Gem Lake. I didn't see anyone on that part of the trail at all, until I reached Balanced Rock and there was one group there. It took me almost an hour to get to the Lake and then almost another hour to get to the Rock. Total round trip with picnic breaks was under 5 hours.

hiking
Thursday, June 08, 2017

Views are great. Large parking lot that fills up quickly. Lots of traffic to/from gem lake, pretty much no traffic to/from balanced rock from gem lake.

hiking
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Great trail; very well maintained. It's a decent climb up to the lake but not brutal. Also, there was considerable traffic on this part of the trail. The views on the way to the lake are remarkable. Once we passed the lake we had the trail to ourselves for the entirety of the out and back. Didn't see another soul between the lake, Balanced Rock, and back to the lake.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

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Monday, September 11, 2017

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