Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)

  • Glacier Gorge Trailhead – arrive early, as Alberta Falls will draw a large crowd any day of the week
  • Attempted 5/19/15
  • Apprx 3.25 miles round trip
  • Apprx 1.5 hr hike
  • Easy trip with or without snow
  • +430′ net elevation gain to Dream Lake (9,905′)
  • Equipment:
    • sunblock (the reflection off the snow will burn you like you wouldn’t believe)
    • microspikes (make going back down the hard-packed snow trail much simpler, the entire hike will be hard snow-packed)
    • tech shell (you will want a shell to protect you from the wind, a soft shell with a warm under layer would suffice)
      • I found that after I warmed up, my fleece jacket was more than enough to keep me warm

One can start at the Bear Lake Trailhead with a short drive up the road, but where is the pleasure in that?!  The walk through the woods from Glacier Gorge TH to Bear Lake TH is pretty and worth the extra distance (it adds perhaps a mile round trip, maybe a bit more).  Nymph lake was our first stop, which was a small lake surrounded by trees.

I estimate this lake to be between 1.5 and 2 miles from the Glacier Gorge TH.  A small lake, but pretty.  We were caught in some fog, so there isn't really a background...
I estimate this lake to be between 1.5 and 2 miles from the Glacier Gorge TH. A small lake, but pretty. We were caught in some fog, so there isn’t really a background…
I decided to make a small snowman to welcome people to the lake.  I am an artist in my spare time, clearly!
I decided to make a small snowman to welcome people to the lake. I am an artist in my spare time, clearly!

From here we walked along the well carved path to the right side of the lake.  By this time, 1pm, the snow was rather slushy from beginning to melt in the afternoon “heat.”  Further up the road trail we ran into a small falls.  I actually really liked this one from how quiet and peaceful it was!

While I don't think this is technically a
While I don’t think this is technically a “falls” it is still very pretty! Probably about 0.5 miles up from Nymph Lake.

The next stop was Dream Lake!  While there was some steep hills (relatively speaking, as I didn’t bring my microspikes with me, so descending this hill turned into skiing with hiking boots basically), the hike was brief to Dream Lake.

This is Dream Lake from the close side of the lake.  While I wanted to trek to the back of the lake and onward to Emerald Lake (we would have stayed to the right side of this lake, NOT the left trail as seen here).  This is likely 3.25 miles from our TH, but I cannot be sure as my GPS watch died.
This is Dream Lake from the close side of the lake. While I wanted to trek to the back of the lake and onward to Emerald Lake (we would have stayed to the right side of this lake, NOT the left trail as seen here). This is likely 3.25 miles from our TH, but I cannot be sure as my GPS watch died.

On our way down, we took the VERY brief detour over to bear lake.  There were a ton of tourists posing for pictures at this lake, as it is truly a one minute hike from the parking lot.  While that turned me off to this lake, it was impressive and worth the extra few steps to walk here.

Fun fact: My foot fell into the lake as I tried to take this picture.  What I'll do for a good photo.  The lake is much larger than seen here, but my now cold foot said that setting up for a panoramic shot wasn't worth it!
Fun fact: My foot fell into the lake as I tried to take this picture. What I’ll do for a good photo. The lake is much larger than seen here, but my now cold foot said that setting up for a panoramic shot wasn’t worth it!

Overall, this hike will retain its snow well into “summer” so don’t wait out hoping for it to melt.  The lakes are still very pretty and the white capped peaks add to that.  However, be prepared for some slipping and sliding if hiking past noon because the snow will be slushy!

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