Bear Lake Trail : 9,475 ft
Inside the Rocky Mountains National Park, this trail is one of the most accessible, high elevation lake hikes I have found in Colorado. With a beautiful drive into the park and a short walk to the alpine lake, Bear Lake Trail is so easy to get to, I felt guilty I didn’t have to do any work to see it. Of course, with such an easy approach, the place is bound to be busy and it was, but not as much as you would expect for a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Colorado. I think during the summer, when the park sees the majority of its visitors, this trail may be unbearably crowded, so give it a try during the winter if possible.
Emerald Lake : 10,080 ft
With such an easy access to Bear Lake Trail, we didn’t feel like we completed our hike for this week, or seen enough of the park to justify the 2-hr drive to Rocky Mountains National Park, so we decided to hike the Emerald Lake Trail which is accessible from Bear Lake and passes through 2 additional lakes -Nymph and Dream – before reaching Emerald.
Although Emerald Lake trail is short (3.5 miles round-trip), it is of moderate difficulty due to the quick elevation gain and the icy/snowy conditions during the winter. Snowshoeing and skiing are allowed on the trail.
If hiking, snow traction cleats and hiking poles help with the steeper or more slippery parts of the trail. If everything else fails, your butt can also be used as a sliding tool, which is both practical and fun!
The hike to Emerald Lake is beautiful, surrounded by tall pine trees and breathtaking views of the peaks nesting it. In the winter, the lakes are frozen solid and covered with snow so it’s a little difficult to actually see a lake. Many people hike over it, but at Emerald lake the snow was blown off the lake leaving it icy with a stunning backdrop of Hallet Peak. If the windshield wasn’t so frosty when we reached it, we would have stayed longer.
For a map of Bear Lake Trail and other trails click here.
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of 4 national parks in Colorado, this park is popular with locals and out-of-town visitors alike, with over 3.5 million visitors a year. It’s open year-round and has a diverse offering of activities for the whole family. With over 300 miles of trails, it would take years to see it all, but it’s worth multiple visits. For more information on the park, trail condition and fees, click here.
Where have you been exploring lately?