Gem Lake, Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Gem Lake - 3.3 Miles
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||3.3 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||7,882' - 8,830'|
|Elevation Change:||+948' net elevation gain (+971' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Gem Lake is located 1.65 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead on the northeast side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It fills a shallow depression near the top of Lumpy Ridge, a massive granite rock complex home to numerous raptor species renowned world class climbing.
Gem Lake is unusual in that there's no true inlet or outlet stream - surrounding rock traps, collects, and steers water into the small basin. The lake faces south at a modest elevation, meaning less snow and faster melt that make it one of Rocky Mountain's most accessible 4 season hikes.
In May 2007 the Twin Owls Trailhead was relocated approximately .5 miles to the east and re-named Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. The new trailhead - which accesses Gem Lake, the Twin Owls Loop, and all Lumpy Ridge climbing destinations - holds more parking and updated park information.
Some maps do not illustrate the recent move. Signs at Lumpy Ridge Trailhead clearly depict new routing and distances affected by the relocation:
The trail climbs steeply through mature ponderosa and aspen all the way to Gem Lake. Sculpted granite boulders line the trail and lend to the area's unique aesthetic. Autumn visitors will enjoy brilliant colors and a gold carpet of fallen leaves.
Openings in the forest yield rangy panoramas that include Longs Peak (14,259'), Estes Cone (11,011'), Taylor Peak (13,163'), Powell Peak (13,208'), McHenrys Peak (13,327'), and the Estes Park area.
The moderately-strenuous grade levels out only upon reaching Gem Lake. The lake's west shore is beach-like, while the north and east shores are encased by vertical granite walls that can be reached from their flat base just above waterline.
The trail continues past Gem Lake on longer routes to Bridal Veil Falls and the Twin Owls Loop.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N40 24.646 W105 30.206 — Gem Lake
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Rabbit Ears Backcountry Campsite
- The Rabbit Ears campsite is located at 8,100', 1.4 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.5 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. There is 1 site and a bear box available. Water is available from Cow Creek. The site is located south of the Cow Creek Trail in an open area surrounded by trees. It sits below the ridge where two upright rocks simulate rabbit ears. A rock bench behind the site makes a natural seating area.
- The Peregrine campsite is located at 8,480', 2.0 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.2 miles from the Lump Ridge Trailhead. There is 1 site and a bear box available. Water is available from Cow Creek. The site is located off the Cow Creek Trail, approx. 100 yards past the Dark Mountain Trail junction.
- The McGregor campsite is located at 9,040', 4.1 miles from the Cow Creek Trailhead and 5.1 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. There are 2 sites available; no bear boxes are provided. Water is available from Black Canyon Creek. The site is located in a thick pine forest south of Black Canyon Creek off the Black Canyon Trail.
- Wood signs mark campsite spurs, which may also be marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tents as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees. Boil or adequately treat all water. Stoves only. Fires are prohibited, unless staying in a wood fire site with visible metal fire ring.
Peregrine Backcountry Campsite
McGregor Mountain Backcountry Campsite
To reach the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead: From US 36 in downtown Estes Park, drive north on MacGregor Avenue. Shortly after crossing US Highway 34, MacGregor Avenue will turn into Devils Gulch Road. Continue on Devils Gulch Road bypassing the gateway to the MacGregor Ranch area. Less than a mile ahead, the turn off to the trailhead is marked by an NPS sign. Turn left (north) onto the trailhead access road which dead ends several hundred yards from Devils Gulch Road. The trailhead and parking area have pit toilets.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397
General Visitor Information:
Backcountry Permit Info: