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Estes Park, Colorado

Snowshoe to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes

Originally added by Brock DeHaven

Three (frozen!) lakes, one hike, all in under 4 miles roundtripEasy ascent, especially with snowshoes or cramponsEasily one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado

Yes I know I already wrote about this hike but trust me it is more than worth it to do it again in the winter time. First things first, if there was just a snowstorm I would definitely recommend wearing snowshoes, but if you are going anytime else crampons will serve you just fine. This hike stems from the Bear Lake parking lot and starts winding up through a dense forest landscape before arriving at Nymph Lake in what only takes about 15 minutes. This lake is the smallest of the three and takes about 1 minute to cross to continue back on the path. In what is the most challenging (and slippery) stretch of the hike, you quickly climb up the mountain but are awarded with views of Longs Peak and Glacier Gorge. After a couple more minutes of heading up the mountain the hike flattens out once again and you arrive to Dream Lake. This lake, appropriately named, offers a .35 mile across while framing the eastern flanks of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.

After Dream Lake you head 0.7 miles to Emerald Lake through an easy portion of the hike surrounded by a valley with frozen waterfalls, large boulders and snow covered pine trees. Once you have to Emerald Lake, the scenery drastically changes to a more steep and rocky landscape but still offers amazing views of Flattop Mountain and Hallet Peak. In what is a crazy experience, you can traverse across the frozen Emerald Lake and stand dead in the center while being surrounded by thirteen thousand foot peaks. Once you are done exploring the immensity of the final lake and all its surroundings, you head down the same exact path straight to the parking lot.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area


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Winter sunrise over the ice

Dream Lake is an amazing place for sunrise if the conditions are right. The blowing wind usually keeps the lake free of snow and interesting formations and cracks in the ice make for great photography foregrounds.

Leave No Trace

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

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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Nearby Adventures

Hike to Nymph Lake

1.1 Miles Round Trip - 245 ft gain

Hike to Ptarmigan Lake

11.8 Miles Round Trip - 3850 ft gain