Bear Lake Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado 80517

Elevation Gain130ft
Trailhead Elevation9,454ft
Elevation Min/Max9451/9500ft
Elevation Start/End9454/9454ft

Bear Lake Trail

Bear Lake Trail is a hiking trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 0.6 miles long and begins at 9,454 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 130 feet. Near the trailhead there are restroom and an information map. Along the trail there are a bare rock and screes. Near the end of the trail is an information board.

Bear Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This is a moderate climb to a popular tourist attraction in Rocky Mountain National Park. The scenery is gorgeous and the road lovable. But don’t feed the tourists! Rocky Mountain National Park was created only through the work of diligent and devoted conservationists more than one hundred years ago.

Not that the mountains would crumble down without that National Park designation, but the area would have become something quite different without it. So appreciate the park in its relatively pristine state while you still can. Arguably, biking on roads that are bumper-to-bumper with looky-loos is a poor way to do that. Plan a little extra time to get off the road and into the woods."

"Established by Congress in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is 265,727 acres of spectacular mountain scenery, including one of the most famous Colorado fourteeners—Longs Peak at 14,255 feet. In the park you might see elk, deer, and an occasional moose.

During the winter months, great horned owls and Steller’s jays make the park their home. Located on the east side of the Continental Divide, the park is a convenient distance for winter enthusiasts from Denver and the Front Range. Snowmobile traffic is not permitted on the cross-country and snowshoe trails described here."

"The Loch is a beautiful mountain lake that’s easy to access and popular to photograph. The scenic trail takes hikers past Alberta Falls and away from the Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge Trailhead crowds. The trail can get very warm, so this is a good hike to do when it is overcast or a little bit cool.

From the Bear Lake Trailhead, cross the wooden bridge and take a left turn. The trail is paved and heads downhill. After about 100 yards, take another left and the trail gradually turns to dirt, but it is so well maintained that you never really notice the difference. After a while, Bear Lake Road is visible on the left, across the river. Bear right uphill as the trails intersect, and follow the signs to Alberta Falls. Stop at the overlook of Alberta Falls, or continue to follow the trail uphill to get better views."

"Flattop Mountain is a large, flat summit space that offers access to the Continental Divide and the trails that crisscross from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It is a well-known hike that many locals gasp at and grab their legs when talking of their last trip to Flattop.

The trail is well-maintained even though it travels through timberline and alpine tundra. The crowds of Bear Lake disappear quickly as the long alpine climb (almost 3,000 feet elevation gain!) takes shape."

"Here you get three lakes for the price of one. Add in Bear Lake and that’s four lakes for the price of one. The lakes are all unique and spaced apart nicely to keep hikers paced and interested. Because of the obvious value of this hike, it can be very crowded. Even in late spring, you’ll traverse snow.

Leave Bear Lake Trailhead. At the trail mileage sign for Emerald Lake 1.8 miles, take a left turn. When we hiked in spring, the wide beginnings of this trail were packed with people. At the next fork, take a right turn, heading up the hill. The trail is composed of rough asphalt. Continue to travel at a slight ascent. The trail is framed by pine and aspen trees. Views of the mountain ranges are to your left, and a hillside is immediately to the right. Your first destination, Nymph Lake, comes up quickly after 0.5 mile."

"Rocky Mountain National Park offers 415 square miles of untamed forests, valleys, and mountain areas for the cross-country skier and snowshoer. All are a relatively short distance from metro Denver and the Front Range. Even in the wintertime Moraine Park Campground is open for tent and RV camping, while Longs Peak Campground is open to tent camping only. There is a fee for camping in these sites.

There’s no firewood in the park, and campers must bring their own water. But an overnight adventure on one of the unmarked trails is truly worth the experience for skiers or snowshoers who are familiar with Colorado’s temperamental weather conditions and are experienced in reading topographical maps and using a compass and a GPS unit."

"Snow on the route to Hollowell Park often is adequate and shaded by heavy forest after a short ascent on an open, southfacing slope.

This trail leads to Bierstadt Lake, a popular destination for backcountry travelers in Rocky Mountain National Park in both winter and summer. Frequently during the winter and spring, snowshoes or skis must be carried over some relatively snowless sections when hikers are traveling beyond the lake to meet Bear Lake Road in Hollowell Park.

Bright markers delineate the 4.5-mile route from the Bear Lake parking lot to Hollowell Park. Markers also lead to an alternative destination at the summer parking area for the Bear Lake Shuttle. Begin with a short, steep climb to the trail’s high point, about 0.5 mile from Bear Lake. Thereafter the route is downhill for the remaining 4 miles. At the high point the Odessa Lake Trail heads left from the Bierstadt Lake Trail. The National Park Service considers the trail to Odessa Gorge to be avalanche prone."

"Cross-country skiing can be daunting in Rocky Mountain National Park. Narrow, winding trails, limited snowfall, and the lack of old mining roads call for snowshoes as the preferable winter transport mode within the park. Touring skins are advised for the skier."

"This path perambulates along the perimeter of the park’s most popular lake."

"Bear Lake and the surrounding area is a quiet showcase of Rocky Mountain National Park’s ever-evolving forests and shores. The trails wander through a collage of nature’s best: rainbow-making waterfalls, wildflower-bordered streams, cathedral-like forests, and mountain mirroring lakes."

"Four main trails service Bierstadt Lake. Bear Lake Trailhead is an easier, longer option because the trailhead is slightly higher than the subalpine lake destination. So instead of heading up and away, you can treat yourself to a gradual descent with a worthy reward. The up part can come at the end this time.

From the Bear Lake Trailhead, follow the masses past the entrance to the Bear Lake hikes. Of all the paths at this trailhead, this one is the easiest to find—being a popular winter cross-country skiing trail, it’s marked with orange fluorescent squares. From here, follow the Flattop Mountain Trail, which heads to Odessa Lake, for approximately 0.4 mile to the intersection of Bierstadt Lake Trail."

"This path perambulates the perimeter of the park’s most popular lake."

Bear Lake Trail Reviews

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This hike is easy, short, and picturesque! Bring your kids for sure. It is more of a stroll than a hike. The lake is gorgeous.
There are many pretty sites around here and this one is nice, but I wouldn't prioritize it above others that are more beautiful.
We've hiked the Loch a half dozen times. It is hands down one of the best hikes and most beautiful lakes in the park. Allow enough time to continue up the valley to Timberline Falls, Lake of Glass and Sky Pond for a great day of hiking!!
We hiked this trail while the trail was covered with both some loose powder and some snow pack. The entire trail was covered with snow which we liked. Once we reached Alberta Falls we decided to go back country and we crossed the frozen water fall near the top. From there it was a lot better due to not seeing any more tourist and seeing a lot more nature. After about three hours in the back country we came back across the trail and followed it up to the Loch. The lake was of course frozen solid with about 3 to 4 ft. of snow covering most of the lake. The wind was blowing at about 30 miles per hour with gusts in the 50s. When we stood on the parts of the lake that had little to no snow, the wind would push us across the ice. Pretty cool. Theres lots of water falls and plenty of wild life. I guess the only bad part is that its in the park so you will need a permit and a parking pass if you want to camp. Even then you can not have a fire unless your in a designated camping slot which I will never do. Thats not camping.
This is an excellent hike for anyone. We love to walk around the lake with our two toddlers and admire the gorgeous views of the lake and the mountains.
The hikes around Bear Lake in RMNP are breath taking in the surrounding scenary. The trail around Bear Lake has some of the finest views of Long's Peak you will find anywhere in the Park. A benefit or drawback is the accessiblity. If you are looking for solitude you won't find it here. The trail is handicapped/stroller accessible and heavily used. I felt somewhat foolish as I walked prepared for heavy-duty mountain hiking, and had several people pass by on the trail with infants or walkers. If you seek and easy and beautiful hike this is it. If you would like more challenge and less company, Try nearby, Emeral Lake or the Loch.
This easy trail is located a few hundred yards from the bear lake parkinglot and ranger station. It is a headway for other more "loafty" destinations. Namely Flattop and Halet peaks, both are visible from the shoreline. Good hike for a beginner.
This is the best trail in the Park for people in wheelchairs or those who want to view nature but aren't very mobile. Way too crowded, however! The farther you go from the parking lot, the less populated. And this place leads off to other trails, so it was a good meeting place for our group of diverse hiking needs.

Bear Lake Trail Photos

Trail Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Nearby City
Rocky Mountain National Park
For current conditions and more information, contact Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, or (970) 586-1206
Local Contacts
Rocky Mountain National Park brochure; USGS McHenrys Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018