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Emerald Lake

  4.7 ( 266 ) Favorite


3.3 mile 5.4 kilometer loop


Ascent: 661' 201 m
Descent: -651' -198 m
High: 10,104' 3,080 m
Low: 9,476' 2,888 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Brian Smith

An easy to moderate out and back that culminates at views of Emerald Lake.

Brian Smith

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This hike is short enough and gradual enough to bring along young kids. You can turn around whenever you want and there are many great picnic sport along the way!


This is a short, fairly easy out-and-back that features Dream and Emerald Lakes.


From the Bear Lake trailhead, follow the signs for Dream Lake onto this well-traveled, asphalt-sealed trail. Hiking is very easygoing along the Dream Lake Trail as it contours at very mellow grades up the slope.

Just over 1.5 miles from the TH, you'll reach Nymph Lake, a picturesque mountain lake that makes for a good place to take in the surrounding peaks. Continuing up the trail, you'll eventually cross Tyndall Creek and come to a junction with Lake Haiyaha Trail. Hike past this intersection to reach Dream Lake.

Dream Lake is a spectacular, narrow lake that sits in a drainage on the rugged eastern slope of Flattop Mountain. The lake makes for a good resting point on this hike. Once you've gotten your fill at Dream Lake, continue hiking along the trail for another mile until you reach Emerald Lake. This lake is a beautiful sight to see as it sits nestled into the rugged western face of Flattop Mountain.

From Emerald Lake, turn around and hike back the way you came to the Bear Lake TH.

Flora & Fauna

This hike follows Tyndall Creek up towards its headwaters. Look for riparian vegetation typical of this environment including various willows, mountain alder, and water birch with dark-colored bark. In a few places, blue spruce may grow near streams and sometimes hybridize with Engelmann spruce.

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Oct 13, 2019
Mitsuru Nakaoka
Oct 12, 2019
Elysa Gauthreaux
Oct 12, 2019
Emma Canducci
Oct 11, 2019
Jack G
Really cold start with lots of wind at emerald lake, but beautiful hike with fresh snow.
Oct 2, 2019
Rita Beckman
Sep 29, 2019
Lala Khalida
Sep 24, 2019
Jeff Taylor
Sep 22, 2019
Ada Hui Xu

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 266 votes


in Bear Lake


  4.7 from 266 votes
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891 Views Last Month
32,857 Since Jan 8, 2015



Representing the REI NP Centennial backpack at Dream Lake, looking towards Flattop Mountain (right) and Hallett Peak (left).
May 20, 2016 near Estes Park, CO
The view to Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain from Dream Lake.
Dec 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Dancing up a dream.
Apr 23, 2017 near Estes Park, CO
Long's Peak and aspens
Jan 19, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Dream Lake
Jan 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Dream Lake
Aug 25, 2015 near Estes Park, CO

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