Emerald Lake Trail Emerald Lake Trail

Unveiling the Allure of Colorado’s Emerald Lake Trail

Emerald Lake Trail is the perfect hiking trail for all those who love adventure, challenges, and excitement. The Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado, is a great hike, and the best time to visit here is from June to October.

Hiking trails in the Rocky Mountain National Park suit visitors who enjoy silence, solitude, nature, wildlife, and wilderness. There are many lakes, streams, and glaciers inside the Rocky Mountain National Park, which makes it a haven for nature lovers to admire and appreciate the raw beauty of the land.

Emerald Lake Trail
By Michael Kirsh / unsplash Copyright 2022

1. The Emerald Lake Trail 

Named because of its viridescent water, It is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Rocky Mountain National Park, mainly because it can be termed moderately tricky.

The Emerald Lake trail attracts a lot of hikers, including small children, to this region. Make sure you wear comfortable hiking shoes to enjoy the hike. The extreme popularity of this Trail is because of its elevation gain of 709 feet, and the round-trip trail to Emerald Lake is 3.1-mile.

Emerald Lake Trail
By Roger Lipera / unsplash Copyright 2020

Emerald Lake trail commences from the Bear Lake trailhead at the end of Bear Lake Road. It is summertime to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park if you are looking for activities like mountain biking, hiking trails, fly fishing, canoeing, paddling, etc.

You need not be a professional hiker to appreciate the beauty of the lakes: Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. The elevation gain is one of the main reasons for the popularity, attracting a lot of hikers who want to go on easy trails.

Summer months are crowded, and there is a lot of traffic even while trying to get to Estes Park. You must reach there early to get a place in the parking lot to park the vehicle at the start of the trailhead.

If you want to avoid all this and have a peaceful hike on the Emerald Lake trail, you can think of planning your hike when it snows. That makes visiting the National Park during the winter months a better choice.

It is an easy trail to do, and in winter, the four lakes will be frozen, and you can walk over them. The entire landscape of the Rocky Mountain National Park changes to a winter wonderland when it snows, and you can go skiing, snowshoeing, and enjoy other winter sports.

You will be amazed looking at the frozen lakes, snow-blanket landscape, and the powdery snow on the leaves.

Many people are hiking during winter, so the National Park will have hikers enjoying the snow. Do not forget to layer yourself and wear snowshoes so that the time you spend there in the snow is pleasant and you feel you have hiked at the end.

If you are lucky, you might see some wildlife on your hike. You will get some fantastic photos at the end of the hike.

Considering the elevation, it is a steady climb to the top, and the breathtakingly beautiful views around you will take you closer to nature and its abundance. Though it is a steep hike at certain parts, on the whole, the hike is a great experience.

2. Lakes to Explore while Hiking

2.1. Bear Lake

bear lake
Image Source: Depositphotos

Hikers stop at Bear Lake on their hiking trail to Emerald Lake. The Bear Lake trailhead is the busiest, and you will find it hard to get parking despite being a large parking lot.

A few minutes can be spent there, and if it is a clear day, you can watch Hallett Peak’s reflection in the lake’s crystal-clear water. The best time to start is early morning; you can avoid crowds because this is a popular trail, and there will be a lot of visitors, especially during the summer months.

The Bear Lake trailhead is quite popular, and the areas around the lake are crowded during the peak season. There is usually heavy traffic, and the free shuttle service ride to the Rocky Mountain National Park would be ideal.

2.2. Nymph Lake

nymph lake
Image Source: Depositphotos

It is a steady climb from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake, though there are certain steep sections during the climb. The splendorous views of the Long Peak through the trees make this beautiful hike exhilarating to visitors who love to capture the scenery with their eyes and camera lenses.

Though located in the same valley, Nymph Lake is isolated from Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. The Nymph Lake is easily accessible compared to the other three lakes, and it is a heavenly vision to see the lake covered in Lilypad during the summer months.

The pond lilies floating in the water blissfully make the spot dreamy and magical, and hikers will love the views as they pass the lake.

Wander around the lake area and feel the magic of the place. The hike around this lake takes you on a mile-round trip. Enjoy the whimsical vibes of the lake and its surroundings as you go past it before embarking on the Emerald Lake Trail.

2.3. Dream Lake

Emerald Lake Trail
By Nikunj Singh / unsplash Copyright 2020

Just like it is to the Nymph Lake, it is an easy climb to the Dream Lake. As you climb higher, the Hallett Peak is visible, and if your trail is during summer, you will be drowned in a sea of wildflowers that add to the color of the place.

The trail junction leads to Lake Haiyaha, huge boulders surround the lake. The shoreline is rugged, and the two peaks, the Otis Peak and the Hallet Peak, are visible from here.

The Chaos Canyon is between these two peaks, and it is a treat to the eyes to watch the majestic beauty of the mountains and the canyon lingering in the landscape and blending effortlessly.

Lake Haiyaha is secluded, and you can see beautiful old trees around the lake as you go past it to continue the hike. The hike to Lake Haiyaha is steep, and it needs some scrambling over the boulders to appreciate this secluded lake.

You hike around the north shore of Dream Lake, and then you move towards Emerald Lake. The sound of water that flows from the melted Tyndall glacier in the background is music to the ears. Dream Lake is an angler’s paradise, and you require a Colorado fishing license if you are above 15.

2.4. Emerald Lake

The elevation you reach will be more than 2,000 feet by the time you reach Emerald Lake. The trail ends at Emerald Lake, and the view is eye-catching.

Hallett Peak and the foot spires of Flattop Mountain dominate the scenery. The water from the Tyndall glacier flows and tumbles down into the Emerald Lake. It is believed the minerals from the glacier water give this beautiful green color to the lake.

Because of the steep sections at the end, hikers call it moderately complex, but otherwise, the Emerald Lake is one of the most accessible trails in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The wildflowers, alpine lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife make this attractive to national and international visitors.

This moderate trail begins from the Bear Lake trailhead, and you see aspen groves, Engelmann spruce, and ponderosa pines while climbing to Emerald Lake. You can go on this hike with your family and enjoy family time with your family members.

Once you reach Dream Lake, Emerald Lake is about another mile. As the trail to Emerald Lake continues, you go deep into the Tyndall Gorge.

Emerald Lake Trail
By Michael Kirsh / Unsplash Copyright 2022

Again, it is an elevation gain, and you hike through a pine forest with the Tyndall Creek water raining down gently. The Emerald Lake languishes in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and this lake trail is a dream for all those who love adventures and hiking. A hike here is a dream come true for those who like the outdoors and some adventure.

Across Emerald Lake, you can see the jagged spires of Flattop Mountain. The free shuttle bus at the Rocky Mountain National Park is the best. It saves you from getting caught in the traffic and searching for a parking lot.

The first half-mile of the trail has partially paved paths for a short distance, and the sheer magnitude of the mountains can be deciphered only by going on a proper hike.

It is a great hike, and you see a lot of rush during the summer and fall. Colorado weather conditions are inconsistent, so checking the weather forecast before planning your Trail is best.

It is better to be prepared for the changing weather conditions. The best thing to do is start early in the morning and return to the trailhead by the afternoon.

Create memories by taking many photos of the hike and hiking trip. The hike here is moderately easy, friendly, and scenic. You can move away from areas where visitors search isolated and quiet areas to take photos and enjoy the surroundings and the magnitude of Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, and the Tyndall Gorge.

Emerald Lake Trail
By Steve Adams / Unsplash Copyright 2021


Be it spring, summer, fall, or winter—the Rocky Mountain National Park has its charm every season, attracting visitors who like to hike and discover its terrain.

If you want to feel appropriately hiked, this is one of the best trails you can hike. The picture-postcard alpine lakes will leave you awestruck for a long time. Take some great photos and keep memories of your hike long.

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty



  1. This place looks so beautiful with all the mountains and lakes it really makes me want to visit this place and see all of the sights right now.

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