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Gem Lake and Balanced Rock

  4.4 ( 14 ) Favorite


7.5 mile 12.0 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 1,563' 476 m
Descent: -1,562' -476 m
High: 8,827' 2,691 m
Low: 7,841' 2,390 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Brian Smith

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

Brian Smith

Features 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.

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Jun 28, 2019
Keegan Kochis
7.5mi — 4h 00m
Jun 8, 2019
Phil Gibbs
Jun 6, 2019
Kacey Grooms
Jun 1, 2019
Gary Agopsowicz
May 25, 2019
Madison Bambauer
Beautiful, cool hike. Arrived early (0730) and had the trail to ourselves. Mile markers were slight off — counted 2.2 miles to the lake. 4.4mi — 2h 00m
May 15, 2019
Jeremy Humble
May 11, 2019
Desiree Calvelage
May 6, 2019
Vincent M
7.2mi — 9h 27m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 14 votes


in Estes Park


  4.4 from 14 votes
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232 Views Last Month
4,797 Since Jan 30, 2015



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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