Bierstadt Lake

Estes Park, Colorado

Bierstadt Lake

Bierstadt Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"After a short climb, this walkway wanders through the woods to a uniquely formed lake. Bierstadt Lake sits atop Bierstadt Moraine. Actually, Bierstadt Moraine, a ridge more than 1 mile long between Hollowell Park and Glacier Basin, should be called Bierstadt Moraines, for two lateral moraines dumped along the sides of two glaciers of different ages are jammed parallel to each other.

The older moraine is the northerly one, formed by glaciers that flowed from the high peaks from about 127,000 years ago until approximately 87,000 years ago (expert opinions vary). During this time of colder average annual temperature, the first half of Bierstadt Moraine formation began when prevailing east-blowing winds dumped snow to a depth of at least 250 feet on the east side of the Continental Divide."

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More Bierstadt Lake Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

"This nice short jaunt for families and beginners starting from Bear Lake offers great views of the entire glacier-carved valley back to Sprague Lake and up Glacier Gorge to Longs Peak. It is one of the most popular routes from Bear Lake; avoid crowds by starting early or hiking during the week."
Colorado's Quiet Winter Trails (Colorado Mountain Club Press)
Dave Muller
"This lake in Rocky Mountain National Park commemorates the work of German artist Albert Bierstadt, whose paintings include many scenes of the American West. This short trail switchbacks up to scenic Bierstadt Lake and is one of several ways to reach the lake. In winter, be careful to stay on the trail because deep snow can often obscure it. If you’re lucky, you will encounter some wildlife, which roam freely and without fear in Rocky Mountain National Park. Snowshoers will likely enjoy this trail more than nordic skiers due to the steep, narrow switchbacks. Begin on the Bierstadt Lake Trail to the west northwest. As you follow the switchbacks up to the ridge, enjoy the great views across the valley to the south and southeast. The trail then descends from the ridge to a signed fork. The left hand trail leads to Bear Lake. Take the trail on the right and quickly reach Bierstadt Lake. A trail circles the lake."
Best Loop Hikes Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Steve Johnson & David Weinstein
"Bear Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, and big crowds pour into the area by the busload. We typically avoid this type of scene at all costs, but the scenery here is so spectacular, we can’t pass it up. Huge mountains flank a deep green valley, and cold, clear streams mosey through the woods. Bierstadt is a nice little trail conveniently located nearby where we can leave the tourists behind and explore a small part of Glacier Basin, and there is direct access to the Little Matterhorn hike, too."
"After a short climb, this walkway wanders through the woods to a uniquely formed lake."

Trail Information

Estes Park
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
4 hours
9,475 feet
Trailhead Elevation
9,730 feet
Top Elevation
Additional Use
Rocky Mountain National Park Backcountry Office; 1000 US 36, Estes Park 80517; (970) 586-1242; www.nps.gov/romo
Local Contacts
USGS McHenrys Peak; Trails Illustrated Longs Peak
Local Maps

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