Explore the most popular fishing trails near Estes Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hiked and did some backcountry camping on this trail over the weekend. It really lives up to the dozens of reviews for being a really beautiful hike. Taking this route from the entry point of Bear Lake to the exit point at the Fern Lake trailhead is a great way to go- especially if you’re carrying about 25-30 lbs. on your back. There is some elevation gain at the start till you get to the hard right turn about 3.7 miles into the hike. At this point, some of the most beautiful views on the hike appear as you descend to Odessa Lake. While this trail does not take you right next to Odessa Lake, you get a nice view from the elevated trail vantage point. But, there is a trail that connects to the lake if you want to back-track to see it up close along with the rushing creek waters. Continuing on another .8 mile takes you to Fern lake. This is a beautiful high mountain lake with some overflow ponds and a creek with waterfall. All of this water is great for filtering and drinking and cooking. There was a duck family there with ducklings. Also there were quite a few cut throat trout in the lake too. We camped at the group camping spot which is a nice area not too far from the lake. We checked out the individual campsites, and they were quite a walk back up from the lake. I didn’t care for them too much. We hiked to Spruce lake in the evening and the trail is rougher but manageable. There is nothing spectacular about this lake. The campsite was quiet and the privy was not far off from the group camping area. The next day we headed for the Fern Lake trailhead. It’s basically a downhill journey all the way but passes through several waterfalls and rushing streams. There are a lot of wildflowers and you will want to visit the Arches Rocks formations. The views on this side aren’t as spectacular, but still nice. I am not happy about all the piles of horse poop on this side of the trail. I know that say it degrades, but it’s just a mess trying to dodge the nasty stuff IMO. The stated mileage is not correct from what I can see for this trail. With our extra hike to Spruce Lake, we clocked 14 miles. We had someone pick us up at the Fern Lake trailhead because there’s not much parking. See my recording and pic’s for a highlight of the trip. All in all, a beautiful hike.

backpacking
15 hours ago

Beautiful weather this weekend! Crowded trails and lots of mosquitoes, though! Bring bug spray for sure.

This hike hits four stunning lakes, so obviously it was a good one. Only setback was the masses of people on the trail, but once you get up to Emerald lake it thins out. We climbed all the way up to the waterfall and there was even some snow!!

Great day hike. Didn’t have the map with. Could have used more markings for how far you where from the lake

walking
20 hours ago

Amazing views! We parked about 7am on a Friday and the lot was almost full. Great for all skill levels.

I would recommend using the Park-n-Ride option as the trailhead parking fills quickly. The shuttle runs every 15 min or so from the lot to the trailhead and back again. Plenty of bathrooms, which is handy when spending a full day there. From bear lake trailhead there are 3 lakes you’ll pass along the way. Watch for wildlife as I saw a female elk off to the side last week.

beautiful lil stroll

The moose at the top in the lake to the left was a bonus!

We arrived at the Bear Lake trail head about 12 to 1 pm and started the hike shortly after. We were in three groups with different experience levels. I was the least experienced and least fit on the three groups. Thankfully I had a buddy that stayed with me through day one of the hike.

The first evening we hiked the first part of the bear lake trail until it intersected with the Flattop Mountain Trail and made a sharp left onto the Flattop Mountain trail. We followed the trail until it intersected with the Fern Lake Trail. We then followed that past lake Odessa and on to Fern Lake.

We arrived at Fern lake and made camp on the far side of the lake in one of the camp sites. Reservations needed.

The next day we broke camp and followed Fern lake trail to The Pool and broke for lunch at The Pool.

As we broke for lunch I found The Pool a great place to remove my boots and socks and soak those tied dogs in the cold crisp icy water of the Thompson River. As you arrive at The Pool, if you cross the little log bridge, you will find a nice rock with a trail / elevation designator on it and that rock makes an awesome place to get to the rivers edge for a good foot soak.

We then followed Fern Lake trail past through the huge rocks, and on to the Fern Lake trail head.

It was a beautiful hike through the mountains.

I’m actually looking forward to another pass through this trail.

The highlights of this particular hike has to be as you turn the corner of the trail and start the decent into the valley toward Odessa Lake, the scenery is beautiful to say the least. Norman Rockwell would have loved this picturesque valley.

As you start the decent into the valley toward Lake Odessa I felt that the terrain changed and became more challenging. First your working a different set of muscles now as your hiking downhill and second the trail is now covered with many more large rocks to traverse on your descent. For those of us in a little less than great shape this is a bigger challenge than for those with the skills of a mountain goat.

My sons highlight of the trail was the little pesky chip monks who take up residence at The Pool. They will gladly accept any handouts and stuff their little cheeks full.

It was a wonderful nearly 17 miles and hopefully the first of many more such adventures.

Took my family of teens up to Hiahaya and loved it! They thought the boulders were a ton of fun to climb on. So glad we went. Less people on this trail so more quiet to sit and soak in the serenity of it all. This is definitely one trail we will earmark for a return trip.

7/18/18: Stunning views! There are so many beautiful sights to see on this trail and I would highly recommend it. It’s worth the effort to make it all the way to Emerald Lake at the end. The trail is definitely moderate difficulty and being from a low-elevation place made it even harder for my wife and I.
Word to the wise, take all the comments about arriving early seriously. We arrived right at 7am on a Wednesday and the parking lot was 3/4th full at the Bear Lake Trailhead. It was completely full by 7:30 and cars were still pouring in looking for spots. The trails weren’t too crowded at 7, but by 9 there were tons of people on the trails and we frequently were either passing people or getting passed. There was always a steady stream of people coming in the other direction as we were descending. There are lots of families, big groups, and elderly people, so if you want to avoid that, start hiking no later than 7am on weekdays. Keep in mind that it does take a while to drive from the park entrance to the Bear Lake Trailhead/parking lot.

okay just got this app but I hike very often and want to warn people of this crazy deee that wonders around and scared me and some friends while sleeping and would follow us around. so FYI. it was two years ago but he is getting more famous or she idk

Short and sweet

My boyfriend and I were here in the fall of 2017. I absolutely loved this hike! Though the lower portion of the trail was fairly crowded it was still really nice. I was shocked by the number of people hiking in sneakers, pull overs, or no jackets or hats, no water, etc. It was pretty cold/windy and icy already on some spots of the trail. By the time me got up to Emerald lake the wind was vicious but SO worth it. The sun was setting and made for some epic pictures. We are returning to RMNP in a few weeks. Can’t wait to walk this trail in the summer.

Very busy due to the popularity, but an amazingly scenic hike. Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes are all beautiful. My 8 and 5 year olds handled the hike just fine.

Beautiful and so fun to fish at, really enjoyed it

Stunning! We started on the Emerald Lake Trail, and then we took the Lake Haiyaha trail on our way back. When we left Lake Haiyaha, we took the trail back to the Glacier Gorge bus stop. It was lovely!

Emerald Lake Trail itself was easy if you were in shape and moderate if you aren’t. It’s well-maintained.

FYI - The parking lot is usually full by 7 or 7:30. Otherwise, you’ll have to park at the shuttle station and ride up. Shuttles run every seven minutes or so. They cram them full of people.

hiking
5 days ago

One of the MUST HIKES in the park in my opinion. Short, relatively easy hike that rewards you with breathtaking views. I rate it as EASY for experienced hikers and MODERATE for families. Do not stop at Dream Lake... go to the top, it is worth the extra 20 minutes or so. I recommend a sunrise hike to avoid crowds. Parking becomes rare after 7am in the summer so be prepared to take the shuttle if you sleep in. Mosquitos are a problem at the lakes in the morning, so plan accordingly to enjoy your time there. I suggest this as a first hike of the day, then go elsewhere when the buses begin to run. Enjoy!

Beautiful.

hiking
6 days ago

Listed well as a moderate hike. The views were breathtaking, and there are plenty of areas to stop and rest, if needed. As already mentioned, arrive very early (around 7AM) or later in the afternoon (after 5) to avoid the crowd and find parking. Definitely a hiking must for anyone visiting or in the area!

It was amazing! Very well marked trail. The lakes are evenly spaced out so you hike a little, then see a beautiful lake, hike a little more, see another one, and then hike a little further and you’re lead to the grand finally. Definitely recommend! Very rewarding!

Lovely hike with many beautiful lakes along the way. We started at Bear Lake and hiked thru to the Fern Lake trailhead which clocked in at 11.4 miles on my Fitbit. From Fern Lake it is another .7 miles to the RMNP shuttle. It took us about 5 hours, with stops, to complete. The first 3-4 miles of the hike is a steady ascent and the rest is all downhill. We ran into one snow patch along the way that was easily traversed (early July). Stop at every lake along the way- they are spectacular. Keep an eye out for an unmarked trail on your left that leads to Lake Helene. It's about half a mile past the Sourdough Backcountry Campsite and is a great stop for views and lunch. Lake Odessa is about 4.5 miles in and you need to hike down to get to it. Incredible views. We also passed Spruce Lake, Fern Lake, and Fern Falls. We didn't see many people along the way and the views descending into Odessa Gorge are spectacular. Horses are allowed on the trail, and the droppings get pretty bad the last 3 miles near Fern Lake. Overall, this is a beautiful, long hike that offers gorgeous views of RMNP.

hiking
7 days ago

As a first timer to the Rockies this was a nice easy introduction to the park, but start early to avoid high traffic. Arrived at trailhead around 6:30 on Saturday 7/14 and lot was half full. If you want more challenge and a more beautiful scenic lake, take the trail to Lake Haiyaha where the trail splits at Dream Lake, either after Dream or coming back from Emerald. The views going up are more breathtaking and more iconic than what you would see going to Emerald.

High traffic beautiful scenery but if you want solitude and a challenge for a 20-25 year old it is not what you are looking for.

Beautiful lake after passing waterfalls.several hikers saw bears. Was pretty crowded

Unbelievably amazing hike! Steady inclines at times but overall a pretty doable trail by anyone.
I arrived at 6:30pm on a Saturday and the parking had empty spots. Saw a ton of people at the beginning of the trail but the further you go the less people you’ll see.
A lot of bugs when you hike at a later time so bring some bug spray with you! Also, bring a flashlight just in case you need it!

on Emerald Lake Trail

hiking
8 days ago

great hike, with views iconic to colorado - when you see colorado in a photo album, this trail contains views that showcases this.

hiking
9 days ago

Gorgeous views from a reasonably short trail. Lots of wildlife along the way!

hiking
9 days ago

I did the emerald Lake route . I’m not sure why they called it moderate? It’s a nice 45 min stroll to the lake on a amazingly maintained trail, even paved at the beginning. It’s a great trail for families and young ones . If you want more of a challenge hike around the right side of emerald Lake. It is what I would call a very stable rock scramble and doable by older kids with good shoes( some traction on Btm). Then hike up to the falls which are really pretty . That extension makes the hike moderate and is well worth it plus it’s gets you away from the masses . If you are really an extremist then try hiking up the valley to the right of the river and falls. It is an advanced hike and gets to class 3-4 with 80% grade. Tougher going up but you need poles coming down or you take some falls . Do not hike in single file here as you will trigger rock slides due to grade. Also it is what I’d call a loose rock scramble!! Views are insane from up there but be careful as footing is tricky and it requires some rock climbing .

We loved this hike! Perfect hike for a day. On a Friday there were others out there but not a ton. Go to the end. Emerald Lake is worth it!

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