Snowshoe to Emerald Lake

Colorado Bear Lake Trailhead

Added by Ryan Mckinney

  • Amazing Views of Rocky Mountain National Park!
  • Great For All Ages and Skill Levels

Snowshoeing to Emerald Lake was completely different from hiking the trail during summer. Instead of hiking around Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake, I was able to go straight across them (check the ice to make sure it's thick enough to support your weight). Rocky Mountain National Park's trails get a lot of use even in winter, which makes it easier to find your way. When the snow covers the trail signs follow the hard packed trail(also bring a map of the area). Emerald Lake is a great place to have a snack and take in the views of Hallett Peak.

  • Nymph Lake is 0.5 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead and gains 225 feet in elevation
  • Dream Lake is 0.6 miles from Nymph Lake and gains an additional 200 feet in elevation
  • Emerald Lake is 0.7 miles from Dream Lake and gains an additional 180 feet in elevation

In addition to snowshoeing this trail is also a great place for cross country skiing! If you are looking to add more miles to your trip, take the trail to Lake Haiyaha which is to the left of Dream Lake if you are facing Hallett Peak. Remember to bring $20 or your National Parks Pass for entry in to the park.

If you have worked up an appetite after exploring Rocky Mountain National Park and you want to grab a beer and a slice of pizza, check out Village Pizza in Estes Park. They have a pizza there called the Fur Trader which has wild boar, antelope, elk, and buffalo! Pretty tasty!

Pack List

  • Snowshoes/X-Country Skis
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Water
  • Winter Clothing
  • Snacks
  • $20.00 or National Parks Pass for park entry
  • Map & Compass
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Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

Skill Level:



Spring, Winter

Trail Type:



3.6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

605 Feet



Easy Parking

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How to Get There

Great Workout, Even Better Views

You're not going to want to forget your camera for this beautiful hike. You'll also want to layer up and bring a backpack big enough to fit the layers as you start to sweat during the hike up the mountain. But once you get up to Emerald Lake, the wind can be pretty brutal and you'll want to bundle back up. Also bring plenty of water and snacks, and get there early to avoid the crowds.

8 months ago

10 months ago

This is a prime winter hike for sunrise photography in RMNP. If Dream Lake is clear of snow it's worth a stop for the interesting ice formations.

10 months ago

10 months ago

Just did this hike today and loved it! Snowshoes were definitely helpful but not necessary as the majority of the trail was fairly packed down already. All three lakes are completely frozen through and the track currently goes over both Nymph and Dream Lakes on the way to Emerald Lake. The parking lot was completely full by noon so I'd recommend getting an early start to avoid the crowds and have a more serene experience! Extremely beautiful views and can be done by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Would highly recommend doing this hike while theres still some snow, it really adds to the views!

10 months ago

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