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
Snow showers likely after 1am. Cloudy, with a low around 18. West southwest wind 15 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 24. West southwest wind 14 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy. Low around 15, with temperatures rising to around 17 overnight. Wind chill values as low as -2. West wind 17 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 20. Wind chill values as low as -7. West wind 24 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 48 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. West wind 26 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 48 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
A chance of snow showers before 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 17. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9.