Emerald Lake Trail

#5 in Best Things To Do in Rocky Mountain National Park
Emerald Lake Trail
Brad McGinley Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

Bear Lake Rd.

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.4scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

This popular 3 ½-mile, round-trip hike winds past Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Tyndall Creek, and offers some breathtaking views of Longs Peak, Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain before reaching the subalpine Emerald Lake at an elevation of 11,000-some feet. 

Recent travelers recommended getting to the trailhead early to avoid crowded conditions on this popular trail. Also, unless you're visiting in the summer, visitors suggest bringing along some slip-on spikes for your shoes since the trail will likely be snow-covered. 

You can reach the Emerald Lake Trail from the Bear Lake trailhead, found at the end of Bear Lake Road, about 9 miles from the turnoff at Highway 36. Make sure to take the trail that branches off to the left for the Emerald Lake Trail; the trail that veers to the right will take you to the Bear Lake Loop. Unless you get to the parking lot early, you might want to ditch your car and instead rely on the park's free shuttle since this is a popular hike. Access is free with park admission. 

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