ColoradoCool Apparel featured hike: Dream Lake/Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
So there's this spot in RMNP where there's three really sweet lakes all within a few miles of each other, it starts at the Bear Lake TrailHead. It is ridiculous how many awesome vantage points there are so close to each other...the problem is its about the farthest thing from a well kept secret. People are literally shuttled in because the large parking lot fills up so quickly and by 9 am its less like hiking and more like Disney World. HOWEVER....if you're willing to get after it nice and early and hit the trail as daylight breaks, you can beat the crowds and it is amazing. One thing that is a bummer is that dogs are not allowed on these busier trails in RMNP. It sucks but when you see how many people flood this area its easy to understand how wild and messy things could get if a lot of people brought their pups.
Bear Lake is the first lake in this area and is pretty cool, but it's so close to the parking lot that it kinda takes away from the feel of it. Also, being somebody who enjoys putting a little work into reaching a spot with some great views, the fact its just a short ways from the parking lot doesn't quite do it for me....its literally a minutes walk from the parking lot. However, its a beautiful lake in and of itself and is only the beginning of what is a hike full of awesome views.
Dream Lake is only 1.1 miles (one way) from the Bear Lake Trailhead, but like I said, in this area you never go very far before you come across another outstanding view. Along the trail to Dream Lake you go through the trees for a bit at first, then it opens up to reveal some really epic views. There is a stretch (seen above) where you can see for miles and seeing the sun break over those mountains is really something. Before long, you'll reach Nympth Lake. This is a cool little lake covered in lily pads and surrounded by trees. We happened to catch an elk kickin' it on the shore, I would say we were lucky but anybody who has been to RMNP knows seeing an elk is not that uncommon. Always cool though.
Not far up from Nymph Lake is Dream Lake, the featured destination. Another benefit of getting here early (aside from beating the crowds) is the reflection of the towering mountains that is cast onto Dream Lake. Glaciers wore down the rock over the years and created some super drastic angles in the rocks above. That combined with the lush green pines which all reflect beautifully off the water make for a really special sight, not a bad spot to kick back and have a little breakfast.
Just a half mile up from Dream Lake is Emerald Lake. Another dope spot with fantastic views. Like the hike from Bear Lake Trailhead to DreamLake, there's an incline but its pretty mellow. By eight or nine o'clock however (in the summer atleast) things start to get more and more crowded and for locals who didn't travel far to get here, its time to get the hell outta dodge.
As I said before, if you are looking for a mild hike and countless opportunities for great views and photos, this is a great spot to hit. The crowds and no dog rules make it a spot we wouldn't come to often during the summer, but its a must see at some point for everyone. Make sure if you come when the weather is nice you get here really early, or its just not gonna be enjoyable. (unless you dont mind crowds). We look forward to packing up the snowshoes this winter and spending a day up here, as the views should be amazing and the tourists non-existent, might even try to sneak the dog up :)
Until next time, keep it ColoradoCool.