Hike into Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes | Bear Lake Trailhead


                          Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado is scenic!

Nothing is more soothing to our eyes than the crisp sunshine reflecting on the Emerald Blue Alpine Lake with Winds whispering in our ears, that nature indeed is more powerful than us, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. Surrounded by tall peaks at Emerald to Dreamlike waterscape of Dream Lake to lush Lilly pads of Nymph Lake, the hike takes us through a gradual steady climb from Start to Nymph and then takes us through a comparatively moderate climb from Dream to Emerald. 

If one has to do just one hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park, then it has to be the hike to the three lakes that starts at Bear Lake Trailhead - Nymph, Dream, Emerald. It is a very popular hike in the park and is about 3.6 miles roundtrip. I would grade it as easy till Nymph Lake, then gets a little moderate till Dream Lake and is moderate till Emerald Lake. It roughly would take you around 2-4 hours based on how much you choose to stop. 

Fact: Alertness becomes part of the trail especially during pockets where trails had ice sheet over it, which has a tendency to make us slip, or skid. You wouldn't need spiked shoes though. These sections are few. And one can also bypass them in a lot of places, by taking a little detour on the mud(or where there is less ice). We also observed that during morning hours there was more ice as compared to the afternoon when the ice had started melting already due to rising temperatures.

Anyone can do this hike. It's very family-friendly, till the first two lakes. And then, if you have kids who have been on hikes before, Dream to Emerald is moderately challenging but nothing that you will find over strenuous. There are, however, lots of stairs to climb on this trail. And Emerald Lake was chilly cold and windy.

The trailhead to Bear Lake Nature Trail(0.8-mile roundtrip, 9475 feet, Easy)
The trailhead to Nymph Lake (1.2-mile roundtrip, 262 feet elevation gain, Easy)
The trailhead to Dream Lake (2.2-mile roundtrip, 426 feet elevation gain, Easy)
The trailhead to Emerald Lake (3.6 -mile roundtrip, 702 feet elevation gain, Moderate)

Free Shuttles or Car? 

With the convenience of free shuttles till the trailhead, one does not have to bother about parking their car at the parking space which can get busy and unavailable during peak hours. From our campground, we took the shuttle to Park n Ride and from Park n Ride till Bear Lake Trailhead. The buses run very frequently. Also, a few people on the internet had suggested to us, that should we decide to take our car, post 3 pm would be easier on us, as folks who have had come for morning hikes may have already left. 

The Hike 

The first lake that you will witness right away on your slight right of the trailhead would be Bear Lake. 

On your left, there would be two diversions - one that leads to Alberta Falls, and another that would lead to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes. If you have time after completing the three lakes, you can come back to the trailhead and proceed towards Alberta falls if you wish. 

The hike to the 3-lakes is a gradual incline and most of the trail is paved. The first lake we have is Nymph Lake ringed by water lilies which during our time was partly frozen. 

The next would be dream lake, which seemed to be the biggest of the three lakes, and is also located at the base of Harlett Peak making it incredibly scenic. One must be careful of those plank bridges and steps during snow and ice as they tend to get slippery, and two people needed to be rescued thereafter they fell and couldn't get up on their own. Most of the snow had melted during our visit, however, the iced-sheets were apparent on stepped paved trails, and most of us were careful enough to not slide in them. 

 Further ahead is the Emerald Lake. I really loved how dreamy it can get when one leaves Dream lake towards the Emerald as initially, it takes us alongside the Dream side and then into the paved steps. 

The closer we get to Emerald Lake, the mountains look bigger and there are certain angles where one can pose and they would look right behind us. As we reached Emerald Lake, it got very windy and cold. I would say since Emerald Lake is smaller and surrounded by mountains that were snow-covered during our visit, it looks more dramatic in pictures than the dream lake. 

The hues of Emerald lake are clear Emerald and I guess that's where it got its name from. The tree branches at random places make for a great photo op. We really liked how the sun played with the shades of green in the lake and make it sparkle! 

 Facts: Please do not feed crumbs to the blue colored bird that is very common in the area as they tend to follow people in hope and that's not a very healthy sign. I saw kids do that, and felt really bad, as bread ain't nice to the birds in the long term. All in all, a must-do place!


  1. Hello There,
    Thanks for sharing your experience ..the post is full of detailed info..like facts , Distances , and about the parking and free car or when to take ..it is really helpful for the people who are visit this in future . keep posting / keep supporting tourism.

  2. Wow! What a beautiful view, I would love to go there sometimes. This is a perfect place if you are avoiding crowded places due to our situation right now. It is better to be safe than sorry. We should be a responsible traveler in anyways! Thanks for sharing this place and this blog. Keep it up!

  3. Great views! I like your website, you have a new reader!

  4. Thanks for wonderful post with nice collection of images.

  5. Hi great really enjoyed reading your blog. many thanks for sharing helpful information

  6. Wow that is beautiful. I always liked the Rocky and Smoky mountains nestled in between a lake you have the perfect combo.

    AK is breathtaking as you know Seward Ak was my personal fave spot. I wouldn't enjoy the winter months though if I lived there full time way too much snow for my taste.

  7. Amazing view, very beautiful sceneries, I feel relaxed by just looking at the pictures, Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow! such an amazing place to hike with friends and family. The view is very relaxing and you'll surely forget your problems while enjoying the moment. Your content is very informative and helpful for the first timers who'll visit the place soon. Thanks for Sharing!

  9. Amazing photo collection. Thanks to share it.

  10. Very nice really amazing post thank for this.

  11. Hi, You have shared very amazing information about rocky mountain hiking and I would love to visit there once I got chance. Thank you for sharing the information with us.

  12. What an amazing blog you have shared with us. Liked and appreciated this well blog. Thank you.

  13. Just read the article, it is really informative for me. Whenever i visit this site i really found very informative articles.

  14. excellent blogs mate keep uploading more good luck !!

  15. Amazing Photos, Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful info with us. It is so appreciated!

  16. Hey your all articles are awesome. You shared a really useful this article with us, and it was really helpful to me.


Please introduce yourself here.