“A tour of some of the best scenery and terrain on offer in the Lumpy Ridge Area.”
— Brian Smith
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
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.
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.