I can’t even believe some of the views we saw on Emerald Lake Trail. EPIC.
Last week we brought out the snowshoes and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park to check out a new trail. Emerald Lake did not disappoint. I mean… here, just look at this…
Whoops, not that picture. That map is boring! I meant this one.
Yeah, that’s it! I’m even at a loss for words to write here. The hike was simply breathtaking, and I don’t mean because it was cold. Before I go on, let’s get some trail details out of the way.
STARTING ELEVATION: 9,475′
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 10,110′
TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 650′
DISTANCE: 3.5 miles, out and back
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy. Saw many families with small children along the trail.
PROS: The views!! It was like being in a Christmas movie.
CONS: Crowded, like any easy to access National Park trail will be.
Having spent the past 9 years living in Los Angeles, neither Andre or I have done much winter hiking since we were kids growing up in the sticks. After the slightly overwhelming First Day Hike I still didn’t know how I felt about being outdoors in the cold for prolonged periods of time. But we trekked out to Rocky Mountain National Park and I couldn’t be happier we did. First of all, it turns out I LOVE snowshoeing and am now addicted. (It was a little weird when I wore them to the office on Monday.) Second, not sure if you’ve gotten the memo yet, but THE VIEWS ARE AMAZING OUT THERE, and I never would have gotten to see them without some winter wonderland adventuring. Sure, the trails were incredibly crowed, as will be the case with any easy-to-get-to National Park Trail, but it is WORTH IT. Brave the crowds and get your butt out to Emerald Lake– you won’t be disappointed.
As far as crowds go on any trail, they tend to thin out once you get to the first scenic spot, or about 1/2-3/4 miles in. This trail was no exception. Many people stopped at Nymph Lake, which is the first lake you get to along this trail. Do not do make that mistake. Dream Lake is only 1/2-3/4 miles further on, and from there you can see the breath-taking panorama in the photo at the top of this post. Wonderful, yes, but don’t stop there! When you get to Emerald Lake… holy smokes.
I couldn’t believe how many people had stopped at Dream Lake. There were dozens of folks taking pictures there, then turning back. If you continue like 1/4 of a measly mile, you’ll get to take a picture like this…
If you’re lucky you can see some back country downhill skiers climbing up the bowl and taking some runs down in deep, pristine powder. It looks incredibly fun, but also seems like… a lot of effort.
We finally almost got our gopro settings right, and were able to take a timelapse of the entire trail so you can see what it’s like for yourself. If you have 3 min and 15 seconds you should probably check it out.
Even though this trail had some heavy foot traffic, I would DEFINITELY do it again. And again. And again. Can’t wait to go back in the summer!
– C. Egli