Gem Lake Hike
Gem Lake Trail, Estes Park, CO, USA
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Take in breathtaking, memorable views while climbing to the lovely Gem Lake.
The ~3.5-mile hike to Gem Lake is steep on the way up, but well worth it. There are lovely views of Estes Park to stop at and admire (and catch your breath!), but the real highlight is the gorgeous little Gem Lake. We stopped for a while at the lake to have lunch and were rewarded with gorgeous reflections in the clear water, a rocky wall on the far side of the lake, and tons of chipmunks ready to eat our food :) The hike is only about 3 miles, but given the elevation (about 990 feet), it will probably take you ~2 hours. Coming down we found to be much easier, even with our children (ages 2.5 and 4 riding on our backs). The parking situation isn't as bad as other places in RMNP and around Estes Park and you don't have to have a day pass or anything (no one checked our RMNP pass, though we had one).
Directions: Go from Estes Park up Devils Gulch Road. Turn on to Lumpy Ridge Road and park in the large lot. Bathrooms are available.