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Tips on how to Hike Emerald Lake Path in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park – Bearfoot Concept


Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park has no scarcity of wonderful hikes and the three.6-mile Emerald Lake path is likely one of the greatest. It passes by three gorgeous alpine lakes (Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake) earlier than ending on the clear, inexperienced waters of Emerald Lake. The colourful colour comes from daylight refracting off the glacial silt within the water.

We accomplished the Emerald Lake hike as a household whereas visiting Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park over the summer time. It’s an excellent selection for all ages and total mountaineering expertise.

On this put up, we share every thing you want to learn about mountaineering the Emerald Lake path together with the place to begin, entry necessities, greatest locations to cease, and extra.

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Emerald Lake Path Fundamentals

  • Size: 3.6 miles roundtrip
  • Problem: Straightforward to reasonable in sections
  • Path Kind: Largely packed filth, some rock and log steps
  • Whole elevation achieve: 650 toes
  • Max elevation: 10,110 ft
  • Time wanted: 2-3 hours
  • Allow required? A Park Entry Plus timed entry cross is required for entry to the Bear Lake Trailhead from Might by way of September
  • Canine allowed? No

Emerald Lake Path Map


Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park Timed Entry Necessities

In case you are touring to Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park between the months of Might and October, a timed entry cross is required to enter the park. These passes assist to reduce site visitors and congestion in the most well-liked areas.

The timed entry Park Entry Move is completely different out of your Nationwide Park Annual Move or entrance charge.

There are two timed entry permits:

  • The Park Entry grants entry to most areas of the park, however excludes the Bear Lake Hall the place the Emerald Lake hike begins
  • The Park Entry Plus grants entry to all areas of the park together with the Bear Lake Hall and Emerald Lake trailhead.

Necessary: In case you are tenting at Glacier Basin or Aspenglen Campgrounds OR have a reservation for a guided tour you do not want the additional timed entry entry cross. Campers at Timber Creek Campground will want a Park Entry Plus cross for the Bear Lake Hall (which incorporates Emerald Lake).

Park Entry timed entry passes can be found on-line on a first-come first-serve foundation.

Yow will discover extra details about the time entry passes and learn how to get one on the Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park Timed Entry Allow System web site.


The place To Start Your Emerald Lake Hike

The Emerald Lake hike begins at Bear Lake Trailhead positioned off Bear Lake Highway simply 20 minutes after coming into the park from the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

Our household discovered the Emerald Lake Path to be top-of-the-line household hikes in Rocky Mountain that offers you essentially the most bang in your buck: not too strenuous, however very rewarding. For that reason, it’s one of the vital well-liked trailheads inside Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park.

To get to Bear Lake Highway, enter the park from the east in Estes Park and drive roughly 0.2 miles till you see the signal main you to Bear Lake. Bear Lake Highway is a winding paved 9-mile-long scenic path rising to over 9,000 toes in elevation. This space is called the Bear Lake Hall.

The Bear Lake Hall is residence to over 20 mountaineering trails, alpine lakes, waterfalls, fall foliage, and considerable wildlife.

Bear Lake can get very congested and it’s extremely really useful to park in one of many designated park-and-ride heaps to take the shuttle bus to the trailhead. The buses are clear and ethereal and run each 10-Quarter-hour in the summertime months. And they’re free!

Small waterfall cascading down rocks in Rocky Mountain National Park with tall mountains as backdrop
Photograph credit score: Erin Moreland

Emerald Lake Path Information

Beginning Your Hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead

When you arrive on the Bear Lake Trailhead, keep left and observe the marked indicators to Nymph Lake. There are vault bogs accessible within the parking space.

Nymph Lake

Nymph Lake is a picturesque alpine lake surrounded by a dense forest and is essentially the most accessible lake alongside this path.

Photo out over Nymph Lake filled with lily pads and marsh grasses in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Nymph Lake is the primary lake alongside the hike to Emerald Lake | Photograph credit score: Erin Moreland

The hike to Nymph Lake is comparatively simple for the reason that path is well-maintained and is ideal for hikers of all talent ranges.

From the trailhead, attending to Nymph Lake takes about an hour and is roughly a 1.1-mile round-trip trek.

Alongside the way in which, you’ll come throughout a number of small waterfalls and panorama adjustments as you slowly achieve about 245 toes in elevation.

When you attain Nymph Lake, take your time to soak within the views of the mountains and the lake’s tranquil waters. It’s a great spot for a fast break earlier than persevering with on to Dream Lake.

Dream Lake

The hike to Dream Lake from Nymph Lake is one other 0.6 miles alongside the identical path. It’s a steeper climb, gaining over 400 toes in elevation in simply over half a mile.

However it’s undoubtedly definitely worth the hike and when you arrive, it’s simple to see why it’s named Dream Lake- it’s spectacular!

Alpine river leading from Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park surrounded by vibrant green grass and trees and tall, rocky mountains in the distance
The hike to Dream Lake is a little more strenuous, however the panorama and surroundings are price it! | Photograph credit score: Erin Moreland

The turquoise-blue water displays the encircling mountains and highlights Hallett Peak with lovely wildflowers lining the trail in the course of the summer time months.

Dream Lake is a well-liked spot for fishing, wading, and picnicking and is taken into account one of many prettiest lakes in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park.

Nevertheless, be ready for crowds, particularly throughout peak season. Attempt to plan your go to for mountaineering early within the morning or on a weekday for a quieter expertise.

Dream Lake can be an excellent place to cease your hike if the little ones are tiring. There are many rocks to climb and funky streams to play in to make this an epic hike.

A number of households had been having fun with a snack on the encircling giant boulders whereas taking within the view. The full distance to Dream Lake from the Bear Lake trailhead is 2.2 miles roundtrip.

Tip: Whereas mountaineering from Nymph Lake to Dream Lake, look to your left to see glimpses of Longs Peak. This 14’er rises 14,259 toes excessive and is the tallest mountain inside Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park!

Emerald Lake

For these wanting to finish the hike and see all three of those lovely lakes, proceed on the path to Emerald Lake.

This part of the path has lots of log stairs and is the hardest portion of the hike. You’ll attain an elevation of over 10,000 toes and mountaineering at this elevation could make you breathless in the event you aren’t acclimated to it. Take it gradual and relaxation as wanted.

The space from Dream to Emerald Lake is one other 0.6 miles. This part of the path provides gorgeous surroundings together with meadows, small waterfalls, streams, and wildflowers. Proceed to observe the path indicators to achieve Emerald Lake.

As soon as you are feeling as in the event you don’t wish to see one other stair in your life, you attain the picturesque panorama surrounding Emerald Lake. Right here hikers are met with views of Tyndall Gorge, Flattop Mountain, and glowing Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park surrounded by tall peaks
Emerald Lake will get its colour from daylight refracting off the glacial silt within the water | Photograph credit score: Erin Moreland

The full distance from the Bear Lake Trailhead to Emerald Lake is 3.6 miles roundtrip with an elevation achieve of 702 toes from the trailhead.

It’s a lot sooner heading again to the parking space because the path is usually downhill. Simply don’t overlook to go searching on the picturesque landscapes surrounding the path to get a special angle!

Total this hike takes anyplace from 2-3 hours relying on stops and mountaineering skills.

Beneath are a number of of my favourite items of day mountaineering gear and proposals:


Ideas for Mountaineering Emerald Lake Path

Earlier than setting off in your hike in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park, take the following pointers into consideration.

Elevation Adjustments

The paths in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park vary in elevation from 7,500 to over 12,000 toes. The hike to Emerald Lake has about 650 toes of elevation achieve roundtrip.

Anybody can expertise altitude points when coming from decrease elevations. Altitude acclimation takes time and could be completely different from individual to individual. Usually, it takes a number of days for the physique to acknowledge and start to adapt to greater elevations, however it could additionally take weeks.

To be able to forestall signs of altitude illness be sure you drink loads of fluids, restrict alcohol consumption, don’t skip meals, and get loads of relaxation.

In the event you discover any altitude illness signs like complications, dizziness, confusion, or nausea, search medical assist.

Views down onto Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park surrounded by dense forest and grey skies
The Emerald Lake Hike has about 650 ft of elevation achieve however has a max elevation of 10,110 ft | Photograph credit score: Erin Moreland

Solar Publicity

Ultraviolet mild is extra intense at greater elevations as a result of thinner ambiance, which means there may be much less air for daylight to journey by way of.

Because of this, solar harm can happen extra simply at greater altitudes. It’s necessary to defend your pores and skin from UV publicity in the event you plan on spending time within the solar for an prolonged time period.

Making use of sunscreen with a excessive SPF score, carrying a solar hat that shields your face and the again of your neck, and carrying UPF clothes and sun shades to guard your eyes from dangerous UV rays are really useful.

Climate Adjustments

Any time you might be mountaineering at greater elevations it’s important to be ready with layers of clothes. The temperature can fluctuate considerably from the start to the top of a hike, particularly with elevation adjustments.

Additionally, the climate situations can change quickly within the Rockies. Mountaineering with a packable waterproof jacket is at all times a good suggestion.

We started our hike with sunny skies and had been met with a random hailstorm on our descent from Emerald Lake.

It’s useful to be ready with an additional set of garments and light-weight sneakers in your automobile to vary into simply in case you might be met with inclement climate.

Learn Extra

Gown Proper For Your Hike

Trail sign pointing to Emerald and Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Searching for extra tips about visiting Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park? Take a look at these posts:

Are you planning on visiting Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park? Is the Emerald Lake path in your agenda? What questions do you continue to have? Go away a remark under!

To take a look at extra of Erin’s work, head over to The Merely Salty Life.

Bearfoot Theory | Embark on a journey through the Rockies by hiking the Emerald Lake Trail. This latest blog post offers a detailed guide on everything you need to know: from how to get there, the level of trail difficulty, and essential hiking tips. Be captivated by the picturesque views of alpine lakes, lush forests, and breathtaking vistas that make this trail a favorite among hikers. Ideal for both experienced hikers and beginners alike. Get ready for an adventure through one of nature's most magnificent creations





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