Emerald lake is a perfect short hike for those of all levels. The views are outstanding, and the entire out and back trail is only 3.6 miles with 650 feet of elevation gain.
Distance: 3.5 Miles Round Trip (5.63 Km)
Elevation: 10,110 Feet (3,081.5 M)
Duration: 2-3 Hours
Elevation Gain: 650 Feet (198 M)
There is one trail to Emerald lake which is located at the end of Bear Lake road. This 1.8 mile journey will take you past 3 lakes, Bear Lake (a couple hundred foot detour at the trailhead), Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake before hikers reach Emerald Lake. Each of these lakes feature stunning views of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.
This trail is very well traveled by all types of hikers. You will often see skiers in winter or climbers in summer heading up the boulder fields.
This is also the same location that hikers start at for summiting Flattop Mountain.
Hiking in Winter
This is one of the best winter hikes in Rocky Mountain National park due to the ease of access and highly trafficked trail. If you are new to winter hiking, this is a great starting point. Microspikes in winter times are often recommended, and snowshoes can be very helpful during heavy snowfall times. This trail is very well traveled, so the snow does pack down quite nicely, but frequently, snowshoes are helpful. We recommend always bringing along snowshoes and microspikes to put on as needed during the hike.
Fishing Along The Trails
Dream lake is a very common catch and release fishing destination. There are incredibly beautiful greenback cutthroat in this system. No fishing is allowed at Bear Lake.
Directions & Parking
During peak season, hikers should use the park shuttle. Information on the shuttle can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/shuttle_bus_route.htm
To Bear Lake Parking Area (At the end of Bear Lake Road)
Current Weather Conditions
Estes Park, CO
A chance of snow showers after 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 34. West southwest wind 20 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
A slight chance of snow showers before 8pm. Partly cloudy. Low around 22, with temperatures rising to around 24 overnight. West southwest wind 18 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Sunny, with a high near 36. West southwest wind around 25 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 24. West southwest wind 20 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 36. West wind 21 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph.
Partly cloudy, with a low around 24.
A chance of snow showers after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Chance of precipitation is 30%.