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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    215 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    5.1 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical DIFF
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Technical DIFF
    Directions to Trailhead

    Emerald Lake

    Panorama of Emerald Lake snowshoe trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

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    Table of contents

    Snowshoeing to Emerald Lake is a fantastic trip in the backcountry of RMNP. This trail takes you to a beautiful alpine lake nestled in a panoramic mountain cirque at the base of Hallett Peak (3,875 m).

    Route Description for Emerald 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.

    The snowshoe to Emerald Lake is a local favorite and comes highly recommended to anybody visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. This trip is just a bit longer than the Dream Lake snowshoe, and actually goes past Dream Lake. There are incredible views from all sections of the trip.

    Depending on the amount of recent snowfall, you may not require snowshoes and be able to hike to Emerald Lake.

    From the Bear Lake trailhead, turn towards the left and follow the well-marked signs towards Nymph Lake. Once you arrive at Nymph Lake, about a 0.8 km from the trailhead, you will be able to see the top of Hallett Peak. This also marks the direction towards Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.

    The trail hugs to the right of Nymph Lake before climbing up in elevation as the trail traverses along the steep mountainside.

    After snowshoeing for about a 1.6 km, the trail will split. Follow the sign for Emerald Lake. It will direct you around the northern shore of Dream Lake. Once you reach the end of Dream Lake, you will battle more elevation as the trail climbs up towards Emerald Lake.

    Eventually, after a short snowshoe uphill, the trail will dead-end straight into the frozen Emerald Lake. Here, you will be surrounded by the massive mountain cirque and the base of Hallett Peak (4,180 m).

    To get back to the Bear Lake trailhead, return the way you came by retracing your steps.

    Insider Hints for Emerald Lake

    • Ice skates? But seriously, if you have a pair, throw them in your pack!
    • Annual National Park Pass helps to avoid the lines at the park entrance.
    • This can be quite a busy route – to avoid the crowds go either early or late in the day. Did you know RMNP gets 50% more visitors on weekends than it does on weekdays? Try visiting in the week too!
    • 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.

    Getting to the Emerald Lake Trailhead

    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 16.1 km until it ends at the Bear Lake Trailhead.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      Late November to Early April

    • Backcountry Campsites:

      Yes- get permits at RMNP Visitors Center

    • Toilets:

      Yes, primitive pit toilet

    • Pets allowed:


    • Family friendly:

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Emerald Lake Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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