Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes hike

Rocky Mountain National Park
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Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes hike

Distance: 6.1mi
Elevation: 722ft
Time: 3-4h

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9.4 Overall Rating
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What a great way to spend the day. Hike to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes and enjoy a special day in Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike takes you to five different lakes, all with unique views and special qualities that give each of them their own sense of beauty.

Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes hike Map

Getting there

From Estes Park, take highway 36 west and enter RMNP at the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Just after the pay station, turn left on Bear Lake Road. Follow the road for about 10.0mi until it ends at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This is a heavily used area. Save yourself some time and just park at the shuttle lot (5.0mi before the trail head) and take the bus to the trailhead.

I’ve done this 16 people have done this
I want to do this 28 want to do this route


When to do

April to October

Backcountry Campsites



At trailhead

Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Double Out and Back With a Loop

Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes hike

This hike is a local favorite and a highly recommended hike for anybody visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. There are incredible views from all sections of the hike and you get to experience five of the many lakes in RMNP. Each of these five lakes have unique properties that make them each just as beautiful as the next.

From the trailhead, hang a left, following the signs to Nymph Lake. The trail splits right away and you’ll stay right. Every intersection is well marked and labeled. The first 0.3mi is semi-paved and sees heavy crowds.

The first lake you’ll reach on this hike is Nymph Lake, which is only about a 0.5mi. Nymph Lake, the smallest of the lakes on this hike, is usually filled with lilies in the water. You’ll see the top of Hallett Peak just beyond the hills. The trail hugs to the right of the lake before climbing up in elevation again.

After hiking for about a 1.0mi, the trail will split. Make note of this junction, because this is where you’ll turn to see Lake Haiyaha when you come back. Right now, take the right trail, following signs for Dream and Emerald Lakes. Dream Lake is right around the corner after you cross a narrow footbridge.

You’ll hike right alongside Dream Lake, a long and skinny lake, on the way to Emerald Lake. Around 1.4mi, the trail gets a little steeper and you’ll wind around the rocks. Take a look to the left for a short waterfall and a large rock to rest on. You’ll reach Emerald Lake in a few hundred yards. Hallett Peak looms over the lake and is sometimes seen reflected in the waters.

Retrace your steps back to the intersection before Dream Lake. Now make a right turn, up the hill to head over to Lake Haiyaha. This part of the hike is less crowded and little bit steeper. Don’t stop hiking, the views are incredible. You’ll follow the trail for 1.2mi, crossing over a bridge and staying straight on the main trail at the intersection.

When you reach the lake, you’ll have to scramble over large rocks for just a little bit to get the best views of the emerald blue water. You’re now on the other side of Hallett peak, seen to the right of the lake.

To get back to the trailhead, retrace your steps from Lake Haiyaha to the main intersection and make a right, back to Nymph Lake and following the trail you came in on. To add one more lake on your hike, take a left when you exit at the trailhead, turning away from the parking lot towards Bear Lake. Choose a direction and follow the wide, flat trail around the perimeter of Bear Lake.

Insider Hints

  • Pick up a $2 nature guide at the Bear Lake trailhead for an informative guide to point out the numbered bear paws around the lake.

  • Parking can be crazy as this trail is so popular. It is HIGHLY recommended to take the shuttle.

  • If you have a stroller or young kids, consider only doing the Bear Lake hike. This is still a fun day outdoors in the beauty of Colorado’s RMNP.


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PetraPk 2 months ago

It was so beautiful, I did not want to leave this place. I was taking my time with the lakes. so peaceful.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Tim_101 2 months ago

This hike was great, really busy to start with and then the higher you go the fewer the people up there. Lots of small animals around.

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Giedre 2 months ago

This place is soo busy!

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Nikola89 2 months ago

I liked it a lot. The lakes were very nice. You can sit and have lunch. Take your time. Continue when you want. Many smaller trails to go through to make the hike more interesting.

10.0 Overall Rating
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4h 00m Time Taken
Trix97 2 months ago

Shame this place is so crowded, it's really beautiful. Would be a great place to disconnect from civilization.

9.0 Overall Rating
03h 45m Time Taken
ddiana 3 months ago

we have walked the lakes in a different order than this page tells so I don't think theres big difference. it was hard to find a parking spot mainly because of thats one of the most popular spots in the rockies but worth giving a visit

8.0 Overall Rating
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Ramiro G. 3 months ago

Just an easy walk around the lakes. I'm pretty sure it's the busiest spot in the Rockies as there are lots of trails starting at this spot but I think it's a must see-place since it's easy to get to, has a visitor centre, and is very well maintained in general

10.0 Overall Rating
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3h 00m Time Taken
Burokai 3 months ago

We've visited them all - nice and easy half-day walk. Bear lake part was very crowded but the crowd spreads as you walk further

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken

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