Hike Lumpy Ridge to Gem Lake
Colorado › Lumpy Ridge Trailhead
Added by Eric Schuette
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 ListFor Hiking:
- Appropriate clothes
- In winter, microspikes are recommended as some portions of the trail stay in the shade and hold ice
- Appropriate climbing skills and gear
There are guide services out of nearby Estes Park as well as Boulder Colorado.
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Running
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
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.
Steep But Worth It
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
Short But Worth It!
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!
Gem lake was a gem!
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.
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.
More Adventures Nearby
Backpack the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop
Colorado / Rich Creek Campground
Starting at the Rich Creek Campground this wonderful moderate hike forms a loop by connecting the Rich Creek Trail and the Tumble Creek trail. in the Buffalo Peaks wilderness.
Hike to Mt. Rosa
Colorado / Frosty Park
To get to the trailhead start on Old Stage Rd. After 11 miles turn right onto Forest Service Rd 379. This is a 4WD road. A small/large SUV, or truck should do the trick, nothing too crazy though.