Hike to Bierstadt Lake

Colorado Bierstadt Lake Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2.4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    675 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the destinations you can hike to off of Bear Lake Road. While Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge parking areas fill up quickly, you stand a good chance to snag a spot at Bierstadt Lake Trailhead. It's a picturesque lake that is a great hike for families or those looking for an easy to moderate hike.

From the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead on Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, you start out in lodgepole pines at 8850 feet high.

But you quickly get into the aspens. In the breeze, aspens flutter or quake. It's unique sound as the leaves almost dance in the wind. The views and aspens are gorgeous, especially this time of year as the aspens shine in a golden splendor. You can enjoy this trail on horseback. Horses have been part of the park since its designation in 1915. This is just one of the trails you can ride.

The vista views of the Continental Divide keep getting better and better as you steadily climb a series of switchbacks to the top of Bierstadt Moraine. It’s a lateral moraine, or a parallel ridge of debris that deposited along the side of a glacier.

The scenery changes quickly on this trail….including hiking through sage. You’ll do most of the elevation gain in the first three-quarters of a mile. After the sage, you are back in pines again at the top of the moraine. The trail gets relatively flat as you continue through the dense forest.

There's a sign for the loop around the lake. If you do the loop, it adds another eighth tenth of a mile. Elevation of Bierstadt Lake is 9,416 feet. It is named after renowned western landscape painter Albert Bierstadt.

This picturesque lake is surrounded by sedges, tall grasslike plants that add to the serenity of the landscape.

There is a big boulder that is a perfect spot to sit and take in the view. The water ripples as the wind blows across this shallow alpine lake and it almost seems to shimmer in the sunshine.

If you want to add more mileage, continue hiking to Bear Lake. You can take the free shuttle back down to Bierstadt Lake Trailhead.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Jacket
  • Picnic or snacks
  • Camera
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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We hiked this starting from the Bear Lake trailhead and passed only about a dozen people on the way up. There was only one other person at the lake when we got there. With gorgeous views and an easy climb, this hike is a must-do for visitors to RMNP

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I took two of my friends from sea-level on this hike on an abnormally warm day in Feb. At an easy pace this hike was very doable for them. The switchbacks aren't took strap and only minimal ice in the winter. An easy first hike for new hikers with big mountain views to show off.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a great lake to hike to for sunrise in the park, but it's rare to have calm water. My favorite spot on the hike is best in the fall when part-way up you'll have a few golden aspens and a grand mountain backdrop for sunrise.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Jennifer BroomeExplorer

I'm the traveling weather chick. I'm a television meteorologist, host and reporter based in Denver. I'm a weather expert and travel expert. I'm also a travel writer. I love travel, weather, adventure, outdoors, food, wine, fitness, hiking, skiing, and yoga.

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