Explore Colorado – Gem Lake
Gem Lake is a local’s favorite in Estes Park. It’s a fun family hike. The trail starts out wide with a gentle incline but as you wind through the trees the path narrows and the steps get bigger. Kids will loving looking for wildlife and the unique rock formations along the trail. The views of Estes Park are spectacular.
There is a privy, or bathroom, that is about 10-15 minutes from the top. It is a good break spot before you tackle the toughest part of the hike.
Gem Lake is a granite bowl that captures rain water so it is a shallow lake. The granite is 1.8 billion years old and has been sculpted by wind and chemical erosion. It’s a great bird watching spot. There is a sandy area at the lake. Estes Park locals call that area “The Beach.” Check out the trees too. They are weathered too so you’ll find some unusual twisted and braided tree formation.
The hike is 1.8 miles from parking lot to Gem Lake. Round trip it is 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of 910 feet. It is free access to Gem Lake but it is part of Rocky Mountain National Park so no dogs are allowed.
The trailhead is north of Estes Park off of Devil’s Gulch Road. From US 36 in downtown Estes Park, drive north on MacGregor Avenue. Shortly after crossing US Highwas 34, MacGregor Avenue turns into Devil’s Gulch Road. Continue on bypassing the gateway to MacGregor Ranch area. Less than a mile away, you’ll see the trailhead makred with an NPS sign.