Panorama of Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Panorama of Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Bear Lake Snowshoe Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park
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Views on Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoTrailhead of Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoSnowy path of Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoRanger Station on Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoHiking the Bear Lake in Winter

Bear Lake Snowshoe Trail

Distance: 0.7mi
Elevation: 23ft
Time: 1h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
10 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

The snowshoe around Bear Lake is another great introduction to winter trails in RMNP. The trail around Bear Lake is short, but definitely has some sweet scenery to check out as you make the loop!

Bear Lake Snowshoe Trail 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.

I’ve done this 16 people have done this
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About

When to do

Late November to Early April

Backcountry Campsites

No camping allowed at Bear Lake

Toilets

Yes, primitive pit toilet

Pets allowed

No

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Good

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Loop


Bear Lake
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Bear Lake

Anyone on a snowshoe trip should have Avalanche training, we recommend AIARE 2 for all backcountry travellers, and AIARE 1 is the minimum. It is important to note that when travelling through avalanche terrain it is extremely valuable to always have a companion.

Similar to #8 Nymph Lake; Bear Lake is a great introduction to RMNP and snowshoeing in the park. Taking under an hour with a family, it is a perfect snowshoe for people of all ages and abilities. Bear Lake also offers an impressive view of Hallett Peak (12713ft) in the background.

It is interesting to note that Bear Lake itself was formed in the ice age as a result of a glacier. Just downhill of Bear Lake you can find several moraines – unconsolidated glacial debris. Bear Lake originally earned its name owing to the number of bears found in the area. Today, however, the grizzly bears that once roamed around this area are now extinct in Colorado and there is a dwindling number of Black Bears in the Park too. The number of visitors in this area also deters bears from frequenting the area.

Unfortunately, the ease of snowshoeing or winter hiking around Bear Lake makes it a very popular destination for families with kids that are looking to explore RMNP with limited time in the park. This means that parking is often filled up by 07:30 am on weekends. As a result, it is advisable to either get there early or head there once the crowds start to leave. Of course, remember to account for shorter daylight times during winter months.

Insider Hints

  • To avoid the crowds, plan to visit Bear Lake during a weekday.

  • If you are on a short schedule but want to check out another area as well as Bear Lake, take the short hike or snowshoe to Nymph Lake!

  • Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park takes you into remote terrain. Make sure you are prepared for an emergency with warm clothes, extra food, matches and potentially a satellite transceiver, like a Garmin InReach. Cell phones may not work on all trails.

  • Always check the avalanche forecast for the Front Ranges before heading out.

Comments

Hikeordie 8 months ago

This is an absolutely beautiful lake. It has awesome views

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
1 Comment

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