Beyond Snow Lake lie Gem lakes and Wildcat Lakes. From the parking lot, follow the trail as it ascends through rugged rock outcroppings and take in the sweeping views of Estes Park and the surrounding mountains. The trail to Gem Lake lies along the same trail that passes by the incredibly popular Snow Lake. A hike of the Gem Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday, Dec. 12, revealed a winter wonderland. Trail is in great condition, as would be expected for such a popular trail. The Gem Lake trail is very popular with hikers. Although the round-trip mileage from Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to Gem Lake and back might not shock your weekend warrior friends, the elevation gain might. Each lake is cut off from the other and no rivers run into them. Short Hike: The lake is roughly two miles from the trailhead and is accessed by the Gem Lake Trail. As cute as the little chipmunks around Gem Lake are, please refrain from feeding them! The lake is frozen solid and snow was falling. If you’re hiking with kids, this rocky paradise is lined by boulders that are perfectly arranged for young climbing. The well-marked trail begins on Devils Gulch Road (outside the park boundary) and steeply climbs across a mountainside to Gem Lake. Snow Lake is a moderate, 6 mile round trip hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Magical! Family Friendly: Kids love climbing on rocks. If you’re looking to explore without paying the $20/car (possibly increasing soon) for a day pass, you can hike Gem Lake and Lumpy Ridge for free. Not only the locals but also people around the world come to enjoy an amazing hiking trip. There are numerous waterfalls, pika habitats, and once you get past Snow Lake, the crowd dwindles dramatically. After just under two miles, you'll emerge at Gem Lake. Rock-filled Hike to a Gem of a Lake – While the destination is a beautiful alpine lake, it’s the journey that makes this hike memorable. Water in the lakes only arrives from rainfall from the surrounding hills. Gem Lake Trail, one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s most popular hikes, is a 3.5-mile, out-and-back hike that begins north of Estes Park. The trail to Gem Lake is a rocky paradise lined by boulders that are perfectly arranged for climbing. While the masses typically stop the first place they can along the shores of Snow Lake, fewer make the short trek from there up to Gem Lake. From panoramic views to rocky climbing you can enjoy everything at Gem Lake Trail. The hike up to Gem took us a little under 3 hours, and a bit quicker on the way back. In just 1.65 miles this trail ascends almost 1,000 feet in elevation, aided sometimes by 1-foot-tall stone steps along the way, earning the intrepid hiker spectacular views of Estes Park and the sheer granite cliffs that The Gem Lake Trail is an out-and-back trail, but it does meet up with another trail between Gem Lake and Balanced Rock if you want to do a much longer loop hike. The Gem Lakes were formed during the last ice age where they were carved about by glaciers. Gem Lake is small, shallow, and in the shape of an ampitheater, with tons of rocky outlooks and opportunites for bouldering surrounding it. Gem Lake is a popular trail that originates at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. Gem Type: Lake The Gem Lake trail can be accessed from outside of the National Park. There are, of course, the usual hazards that any parent should be watchful of, but is a favorite path among families. Download an official Rocky Mountain National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. 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