Hike Lumpy Ridge to Gem Lake

Colorado Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Running, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    950 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Catch a sunrise from a much less visited and unique area in Rocky Mountain National Park. After the sunrise, explore unique scenery by hiking to and above Gem Lake. Lumpy Ridge and the twin owls are famous climbing destinations. The granite in the area is wonderful for climbing. From the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead it's ~3.5 miles round-trip with 950 feet of elevation gain. Gem Lake is the largest lake in Rocky Mountain National Park that has no inlet or outlet streams.

Begin by parking at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead, which is a couple miles outside of Estes Park on McGregor Avenue. At the trailhead, there are numerous signs indicating hiking trails, climbing routes, and other information about the area. After parking start hiking on the trail to the right of the bathrooms.

The trail continues for approximately ~1.8 miles to Gem Lake. The trail climbs steadily through Ponderosa Pine, Aspen, and unique granite rocks. On some of these rocks there are wonderful views of the Twin Owls and across the valley to Long's Peak and the continental divide.

At Gem Lake you can 1) turn around 2) continue on to Balanced Rock or Bridal Veil Falls trails (both of which add several miles each way) 3) climb up and enjoy some fun class 3/4 scrambling on the granite outcroppings in the area. If you choose 3 please recognize seasonal closures, no trace principals, and stay within your comfort/safety zone.

Pack List

For Hiking:
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Appropriate clothes
  • Map
  • Camera
  • In winter, microspikes are recommended as some portions of the trail stay in the shade and hold ice
For Climbing the Lumpy Ridge Area:
  • Appropriate climbing skills and gear

There are guide services out of nearby Estes Park as well as Boulder Colorado.

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Reviews

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This hike is really cool, especially since it's right outside of town and a lower elevation than most hikes in RMNP, which means less snow in the shoulder seasons!

6 days ago
6 days ago

Our 1st Hike upon arriving in CO. It started snowing about an 0.5 miles up the trail and once we arrived at Gem Lake it was really coming down. Gem Lake was not much to look at but the trail there was easy and had plenty of great views along the way. We wanted to continue on, but w/o spikes it was beginning to get slippery. By the time we made it back down to the entrance it had snowed over 3-inches.

10 months ago
10 months ago

This was the first hike we did after arriving in Colorado. It was a nice, easy hike to start our trip and it gave us a chance to adjust to the altitude. Gem Lake was a bit of a disappointment, as it was very small and rather unremarkable. Nevertheless, the views along the trail were beautiful and it was an enjoyable hike.

12 months ago
12 months ago

I went there with a 24 other students on a geology trip and I had knee surgery 2 years ago (and I was still having problems with it) but I absolutely loved it there. It was SO peaceful (even though the wind made itself present) but if you are feeling very "wild":) you can climb even higher to the top of the block of rocks that are there... it may be dangerous but it was 100% worth it to see the view

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

A very short, busy hike, but very worth it! At only 3.5 miles, you can accomplish this in only an hour or two. Make sure to climb the cliffs surrounding the lake for a stunning view over the lake, over Estes all the way to Longs Peak!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

This was a short, simple hike that gave fantastic panoramas of Estes Park and Longs Peak. It was super busy, but not so much that it took away from the experience.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We enjoyed the hike to Gem lake in mid May when some of the better known trails (I'm looking at you, Dream Lake) were still packed with heavy snow. Important to note that the Lumpy Ridge trailhead is not technically a NPS fee area. Even though we have a parks pass, there was no one there to look at it or to collect fees.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This was my first hike ever in Colorado. Now I live here. Enough said.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Awesome easy to mid level hike with a beautiful lake at the end.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The hike was fairly short, easy-moderate in difficulty, and very well marked. Wear hiking boots because there are some rocky segments. There are great views of Estes park and the surrounding peaks throughout this hike. Gem lake is very small, but has some nice spots to rest at.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Eric SchuetteExplorer

I love adventure and exploring. Currently a school psychologist who tries to spend my free-time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

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