Gem Lake Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
11 Reviews
4 out of 5
Gem Lake Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 4.2 miles long and begins at 7,856 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,603 feet. Near the trailhead there are a recycling, waste baskets, an information board, and parking. The Gem Lake water can be seen along the trail.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Gem Lake Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Larimer County, Colorado. It is within Rocky Mountain National Park. It is 4.2 miles long and begins at 7,856 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,603 feet. Near the trailhead there are a recycling, waste baskets, an information board, and parking. The Gem Lake water can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Cow Creek Trail, Balanced Rock Trail and Lumpy Ridge Trail.
Activity Type: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance: 4.2
Elevation Gain: 2,603 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 7,856 feet
Top Elevation: 8,844 feet
Driving Directions: Directions to Gem Lake Trail
Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park
Elevation Min/Max: 7848/8844 ft
Elevation Start/End: 7856/7856 ft

Gem Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Though Rocky Mountain National Park could, as a whole, be called a gem, the small lake found in a granite bowl on Lumpy Ridge is aptly called Gem Lake. Not only is it an interesting hike geologically, but an extraordinary saxifrage, called telesonix, blooms here in July. This pink flower found here (and on Pikes Peak) tucks itself into crevices in the mounded granite surrounding Gem Lake.

Devil’s Gulch Road (which began as MacGregor Avenue) has trailhead parking for about 20 vehicles, and it pays to arrive early or to wait until late afternoon. The close proximity to Estes Park makes Gem Lake easily accessible. The route rises more than 1,000 feet in just two miles, making it a good workout, albeit with views, character, and a fine finale. Wildflower alert: Check out hot pink telesonix tucked into Gem’s granite crevices in July."

"This trail winds amid uncounted granite monoliths to a gem’s setting on the east end of Lumpy Ridge. Watch for bitterbrush blooming first near the surface of rocks that are solar collectors, radiating heat to create early spring before the season arrives for most other plants. Even the most unimaginative of hikers can see a pair of owls in the two huge granite pillars that rise above the trailhead on Lumpy Ridge.

Equally obvious is Paul Bunyan’s Boot about halfway to Gem Lake. Wind and mildly acidic rain have sculpted countless other abstract monoliths along the trail into formations fascinating to both romantic and prosaic minds. It is a natural playground for children, but parents need to supervise and warn kids to avoid falls from slick rocks."

"This trail winds amid uncounted granite monoliths to a gem’s setting on the east end of Lumpy Ridge. Gem Lake nestles in a granite setting on the east end of Lumpy Ridge. When Arapaho horse nomads ventured from the plains, they called the uncounted rock domes along the ridge bounding the north edge of Estes Park the Little Lumps.

Mapmakers adapted this name to Lumpy Ridge. In the 1870s bear hunter Israel Rowe discovered the lake and declared it to be a gem. Some hikers may find Gem Lake to be a less-fitting name than Lumpy Ridge. Gem is small, shallow, and stagnant. Nonetheless, many hikers vote for its attraction with their feet, making Gem Lake one of the most frequently visited in the national park."

"Fantastic balanced rocks and jutting pillars are among interesting rock formations on the way to this natural “gem.” The Estes Park area usually has a mild winter and Gem Lake can be reached in late fall. This hike lies mostly in Rocky Mountain National Park but no fee is required. Dogs and bicycles are prohibited. The little lake is truly a “gem,” nestled in a natural amphitheater, sculpted from the rounded granite domes of Lumpy Ridge.

Untouched by glaciation, this knobby ridge has been shaped by wind, water and “granite spalling” into many interesting rock formations, including fantastic balanced rocks and jutting pillars visible along the route. The trail is clear and well maintained, and \the views south to Estes Park, Longs Peak and many other mountains are excellent. Lumpy Ridge is a major center for rock climbing in the Park. You can spot climbers typically on the south-facing routes of The Twin Owls."

"Diamonds and rubies hold nothing over the glittering beauty of Gem Lake. Set in a simple and elegant basin among the dollops of rock that make up Lumpy Ridge, the lake is a remarkable and popular destination. After a fairly intense climb, it's more than pleasurable to recline on a piece of smooth granite beside the emerald waters to rest, sunbathe and meditate.

This is not a hike to be undertaken by the faint of foot. It's a steady climb to the lake; starting below the striking Twin Owls (popular with rock climbers) and ending with a steep stone staircase. The strain of the hiking is mitigated, however, by the views, which stretch out over the Estes Park basin to the smoke-colored slopes of Longs Peak."

"At 8,830 feet and surrounded by granitic boulders, ledges, and cli?s, Gem Lake is a small gem of a rain-?lled lake with no inlet or outlet. The trail travels along south-and east-facing slopes, wandering in and out of a couple of narrow canyons between granitic outcroppings.

Interesting rock formations inspire the imagination, and several sections o?er spectacular views of Estes Park, Twin Sisters, Longs Peak, and the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorful wild?owers grace the trail from mid-June to early July. This trail is a good early and late season hike in Rocky Mountain National Park."

"The Gem Lake Trail is a fun day hike that travels through an idyllic valley, along a gurgling creek, and up to a magical mountain setting you won’t soon forget. There are two trailheads for this hike, both of which are located off Devils Gulch Road, just north of Estes Park.

Before going anywhere, we must stop at Shakes Alive! in Lower Stanley Village on US 34. Mary Liz and Joe are two of the nicest people in town and their charming little café serves up delectable treats, perfect for fueling up for a big day on the trail."

Recent Trail Reviews

3/12/2018
0

5/30/2014
0

Started at 0900 hours, trail to lake is 1.7 miles each way, took an hour and a half up and about an hour down. We took our time. Easy to moderate, the last 15 minutes are steep. Great views of rock formations, Longs Peak and Estes Park.


2/16/2013
0

This trail is great for a beginner or anyone looking for a casual hike. Biggest downside is Rocky Mountain National Park does not allow dogs so keep that in mind if you want to bring your furry friend.


6/1/2009
0

Nice uphill hike with beautiful views of Rocky Mountain National Park. Paul Bunyon's boot provides a great photo op half-way up. Gem Lake itself is a gorgeous little alpine lake hidden in the rocks at the top. It is especially beautiful when there is still ice and snow on it. Three stars because, although it is a great family hiking trail, there are plenty of trails in Colorado that deserve the four and five star ratings even more.


8/4/2008
0

This is a very pretty hike- albeit a little steep. Always enjoyable, but I don't recommend taking the whiny smoker husband.



Trail Photos

Nearby Trails

Activity Feed

May 2018