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)

 

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

Today
Snow and blowing snow. Cloudy. High near 14, with temperatures falling to around 11 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -16. West southwest wind around 35 mph, with gusts as high as 70 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.

Tonight
Snow and blowing snow. Cloudy, with a low around 10. Wind chill values as low as -14. West southwest wind 25 to 35 mph, with gusts as high as 52 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 9 to 13 inches possible.

Friday
Snow and blowing snow. Cloudy. High near 12, with temperatures falling to around 7 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -13. West southwest wind 18 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.

Friday Night
Snow and blowing snow. Cloudy, with a low around -7. Wind chill values as low as -26. South southwest wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.

New Year's Day
Snow and patchy blowing snow before 1pm, then areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near -3. West wind 18 to 29 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Saturday Night
Blowing snow. Partly cloudy, with a low around -12.

Sunday
Areas of blowing snow. Sunny, with a high near 11.

Sunday Night
Patchy blowing snow. Mostly clear, with a low around 5.

Monday
Patchy blowing snow. Sunny, with a high near 19.

Monday Night
Patchy blowing snow. Partly cloudy, with a low around 10.

Tuesday
Patchy blowing snow before 11am, then patchy blowing snow and a slight chance of snow between 11am and 5pm, then a chance of snow and patchy blowing snow. Mostly sunny, with a high near 17.

Tuesday Night
A chance of snow and patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 11. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.

Wednesday
A chance of snow and patchy blowing snow before 11am, then blowing snow and snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 15. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Wednesday Night
Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

 

Additional Pictures

Emerald Lake Colorado

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, 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. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about

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