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Gem Lake and Balanced Rock

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.4 (19) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A tour of some of the best scenery and terrain on offer in the Lumpy Ridge Area.


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Map Key

7.5

Miles

12.0

KM

Out and Back

8,827' 2,691 m

High

7,841' 2,390 m

Low

1,563' 476 m

Up

1,562' 476 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

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

Overview

This hike makes for a reasonably quick outing and highlights some of the biggest draws of the Lumpy Ridge area. Views of Estes Park and surrounding mountains lead to a serene pond and, eventually, a precariously balanced rock formation.

Description

From the parking lot at the Lumpy Ridge TH, follow the Gem Lake Trail as it ascends through rugged rock outcroppings and take in the sweeping views of Estes Park and the surrounding mountains. The trail is well traveled, but has some steeper stepped switchbacks making it a relatively difficult hike to navigate.

After just under two miles, you'll emerge at Gem Lake. Gem Lake is a small pool that is nestled into a serene rock outcropping. If you're doing this hike in the summertime, be prepared for a greeting from some rather cute residents of the lake - chipmunks! Although it may be tempting and undoubtedly others will be doing so, please do not feed these furry little guys. This is a great place to take a breather before continuing on to Balanced Rock Trail.

Descending from Gem Lake, you'll encounter the Balanced Rock Trail at mile three, which branches off to the left. Follow Balanced Rock Trail for a quick mile until you reach its namesake - a giant boulder that appears to be precariously balanced. This rather large boulder is the turnaround point for the hike. Once you've had a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings, turn around and hike back the way you came.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 19 votes

#3

in Estes Park

#756

Overall
  4.4 from 19 votes
5 Star
47%
4 Star
42%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#3

in Estes Park

#148

in Colorado

#756

Overall
114 Views Last Month
7,327 Since Jan 30, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
75%
0%
25%
0%

Photos

Balanced Rock with permission from Ed Ogle
Jan 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
Looking south across Gem Lake on a calm spring morning
Jul 9, 2018 near Estes Park, CO
On the trail to Gem Lake with permission from dreamer 200
Jan 8, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
The view hiking down from gem lake
Sep 12, 2018 near Estes Park, CO
Gem Lake
Dec 8, 2017 near Estes Park, CO
Yet Another RMNP Panorama
Dec 7, 2017 near Estes Park, CO

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Check-Ins

Jul 7, 2021
Shauna Owens
Not worth it. This sucked! 7.5mi — 5h 00m
Mar 20, 2021
Karthik Thiagarajan
About two hours and totally worth It. A lot of fun 4mi
Sep 25, 2020
Brian Barnett
Sep 5, 2020
jen kammerer
Beautiful hike and scenery! The "lake" was an anticlimactic pond. 3.4mi
Jun 13, 2020
Blake Willard
8mi — 6h 00m
Jun 8, 2020
Reagan Morgart
Nov 25, 2019
Danielle Vincent
Nov 19, 2019
MUrt ErKal