Hike Lumpy Ridge to Gem Lake

Lumpy Ridge Trailhead

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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RT Distance 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 950 Feet
Activities Photography, Running, Hiking, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Fun Hike

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!

Gem Lake

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.

Great intro to Colorado hiking

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.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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