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 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.

Read More

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

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



3.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

950 Feet



Easy Parking
Family Friendly

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How to Get There

14 days ago

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.

14 days ago

about 1 month ago

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

about 1 month ago

3 months ago

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!

3 months ago

5 months ago

Quick But Busy

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.

5 months ago

5 months ago

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.

5 months ago

5 months ago

My first hike in CO

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

5 months ago

6 months ago

Great Hike

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

6 months ago

about 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 1 year ago

Added by Eric Schuette

I love adventure and exploring. Currently spending time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

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