This was our second time on this trail segment, which runs from the Bear Lake parking area to Emerald Lake and connects with other Bear Lake area trails. We had hoped to make it to Emerald Lake if our legs, and the weather, held out. The weather had been iffy overnight and during the morning. Trail Ridge Road had been closed closed the night before and remained closed due to snow for the first time in the season. With rain threatening, instead of a hike that morning, we went into Estes Park. After lunch and walking around Estes Park town center a bit more, we headed back into the park to the Bear Lake area trailhead.
The trail we chose goes to a trio of subalpine lakes – Nymph, Dream, and Emerald – in upper Tyndall Gorge. The trail is well maintained and rises steadily over most of it’s 1.8 mile length. Difficulty is easy to moderate, but can be more difficult for those not acclimatized to the altitude as it climbs to over 10,000 feet. We had already been in Colorado a week, so the altitude was less of an issue than it might have been otherwise.
From the Bear Lake area trails parking lot (9,475 ft.), the trail climbs steady for 1/2 mile, then levels off at about 9, 700 feet at the south end of small, lily pad covered Nymph Lake. The trail begins climbing again in the forest on the north end of Nymph Lake and levels off again at Dream Lake, 1.1 miles from the trail head and at an elevation of 9,912′ ft. Dream Lake is .35 miles long. The trail passes along its west shore.
We had hoped to make it all the way to Emerald Lake, 1.8 miles from the trailhead and 10,090 feet above sea level, but we turned back at the north end of Dream Lake due to deteriorating weather conditions. Weather in the high country can be unpredictable, even in the middle of summer, but this was the middle of September and we’d already had some rain on our hike. We had rain gear with us. However, it was already 3:30 PM and light rain was falling again, so we decided against pushing on ahead.
Blog posts from this visit to
Rocky Mountain National Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park
- National Park Service– Rocky Mountain National Park
- Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Town of Estes Park
- Trail Gazette (newspaper)
- Stanley Hotel