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Emerald Lake Colorado – A Gem of Rocky Mountain National Park

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Article Categories: Hiking

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. This hike is listed as one of the best easy/intermediate hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Hike Stats | Trail Map | Trail Options | Winter | Parking & Directions

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 3.5 Miles Round Trip (5.63 km)
Elevation: 10,110 Feet (3,081.5 meters)
Duration: 2-3 Hours
Elevation Gain: 650 Feet (198 meters)

 

Need To Know Information

 

Trail Map

Emerald Lake Colorado Trail Map

 

Trails

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 Hallett 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

Tonight
Mostly clear. Low around 26, with temperatures rising to around 30 overnight. West wind 18 to 32 mph, with gusts as high as 52 mph.

Monday
A chance of snow showers between noon and 3pm, then a chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms. Sunny. High near 41, with temperatures falling to around 39 in the afternoon. West wind around 33 mph, with gusts as high as 54 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Monday Night
A slight chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms. Partly cloudy. Low around 22, with temperatures rising to around 24 overnight. West wind 17 to 32 mph, with gusts as high as 47 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday
A slight chance of snow showers before noon, then a chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 38. West southwest wind 14 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Tuesday Night
A chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms before midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 25. West southwest wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Wednesday
A slight chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 44. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night
A slight chance of snow showers before midnight. Partly cloudy, with a low around 28. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

 

Additional Pictures

Emerald Lake Colorado

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about

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