Sunday, July 29, 2012

Emerald Lake

In my life, the time I’m able to spend outdoors in the inspiring panorama that is Colorado, fills me up to deal with my daily life.  Without this time, I believe, I would feel empty inside & my life would become dull & unfulfilled. I began this column to share with you the passion I have for the outdoors & to bring you along on some of the hikes I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in my short time in the state.  If you have a favorite hike that you think I’d enjoy going on, please feel free to contact me. My information will be at the end of the article.  Regardless of what your passion is for nature I hope I can inspire you to spend more time enjoying the beauty around you. 

Emerald Lake is one of the many trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The trailhead is in the Bear Lake area of the park.  During the busiest times of the year I would suggest parking at the park & ride to take the free National Park shuttle to the Bear Lake trailheads.  There is ample parking at Bear Lake on most mornings but as the day goes on even this lot becomes quite filled, save yourself the hassle during the summer months & enjoy the ride on the shuttle. 

The trail begins at the end of the parking lot & Bear Lake is just ahead of you to the right.  I suggest a short walk to Bear Lake before you begin; there are many interesting things around the lake but for me, I just love to stand & take in the beauty of the lake before I begin my hike. 

The trail to Emerald Lake begins just to the left of Bear Lake & is at a starting altitude of 9,475ft.  The trail is only 3.6 miles round trip & gains approximately 600ft on your ascend to Emerald Lake.  This altitude gain is fairly moderate except for the fact that you are starting so high to begin with.  The trail itself is easy to follow & most people will find it an easy hike. 

As you begin the trail is shrouded in a beautiful Alpine forest.  You are drawn into this forest as you move along the path, you’ll discover many wonderful places to pause & enjoy the scenery.  As you journey upward you’ll pass a couple of other lakes on your way.  The first is Nymph Lake & the second is Dream Lake.  Each of these lakes has their own special qualities.  We paused at each to take in & enjoy the view.  

The lakes are fed by a wide variety of streams, some very small & some bigger & faster moving.  We liked the sound of the water along most of our journey & occasionally we’re surprised by a beautiful waterfall. 

The view through the tress can be breath taking at times as the mountains around you are almost framed perfectly by the pines in front of you.  These are the moments when I become completely swept away & the thing I loved about this hike was that there was so much diversity to look at all around you as you walked. 

When you reach Dream Lake the path shifts to right to go around the lake.  At this point you only have approximately 7/10’s of a mile to go.  You also have the choice at this point to head to Lake Haiyaha which is approximately 1.1 miles away.  You can create a loop from Lake Haiyaha back to Bear Lake but your total hike will nearly double.  The total mileage for this journey would be approximately 6.5 miles. 

When you reach Emerald Lake you’re rewarded with an amazing view of the mountains all around the lake.  We sat for a good 30 minutes to take in the beauty around us.  While we were relaxing we were joined by a yellow-bellied marmot on the rock next to us. 

The journey back to Bear Lake is fairly easy as you continue downward the whole way.  I would give yourself 2.5 to 3.0 hours to complete this hike so you have plenty of time to take in all the scenery.  Also worth note; the Bear Lake region is a popular place to snowshoe in the winter & many of the trails are open year round for your enjoyment.

Thanks for taking the time to go along with me on this hike.

Till next time,


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