Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Date hiked: Several
- Hiked from: Bear Lake Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 3.1 Miles RT
- Total elevation gain: 708 ft
- Maintained trail: Yes
- Overall Difficulty: 3/10
- Overall Views: 7/10
Just like it’s neighbor Dream Lake, Emerald Lake is top tourist destination spot in Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s good reason for this. Towered by Hallett Peak and Flattop mountain, the views from Emerald Lake are hard to beat.
Hiking Emerald Lake Trail in the Fall
The reason I like Emerald Lake is that it’s accessible year-round, as long as Bear Lake road is open. Big snow storms can sometimes close down the road but its regularly plowed during the winter. This makes it an excellent choice for a great winter hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Depending on how much snow is on the trail, it also makes for a great snow-shoeing trail.
Emerald Lake being so high in elevation is usually frozen in the early spring and late fall, being completely covered in ice throughout the winter. Summer time brings the lake back to life and can create amazing reflections at dawn if the wind is calm. Most trips I’ve made to Emerald Lake the wind has been strong and brutal, so make sure to pack the appropriate jackets and clothing.
There is also access to some amazing climbing routes from Emerald Lake, such as the Dragons Tail Couloir. I would recommend this lake to anyone that has not been to Rocky Mountain National Park before, and doesn’t mind hiking with 100’s of other people next to them on the trail.
Video of us Walking on Emerald Lake during the Winter
How Long does it take to Hike to Emerald Lake?
Approximately 1-2 hours to reach the lake. Experienced, fast hikers should be able to reach Emerald Lake in less than an hour. Distance wise expect slightly over 3 miles round-trip.