Hike Lumpy Ridge to Gem Lake

Estes Park, Colorado

4.3/5
based on 11 reviews

Details

Distance

3.5 miles

Elevation Gain

950 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

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, Leave No Trace principles, and stay within your comfort/safety zone. In the winter, microspikes are recommended/ 

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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Features

Rock Climbing
Photography
Running
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

Although there are much better hikes in the area, this is a nice starter if you are from a lower elevation. It is both a reasonable distance with little elevation gain with great reward.

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!

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

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

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

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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