Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes, Bear Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes - 3.6 Miles
Bear Lake Trailhead
Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes
|Round-Trip Length:||3.6 Miles (includes all destinations)|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,475' - 9,705' (Nymph): 9,912' (Dream): 10,090' (Emerald)|
|Elevation Change:||+230' (Nymph): +437' (Dream): +615' (Emerald)|
Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. A well maintained trail and modest climb lead to this trio of upper-montane lakes in Tyndall Gorge. The eponymous glacier is one of five active glaciers in the Park.
Follow signs from the Bear Lake Trailhead for Nymph, Dream and Emerald lakes. The trail climbs +230' to the south shore of Nymph Lake (.5 miles : 9,705'). Nymph Lake is small and ringed by pond lilies. Enjoy terrific views of Hallet Peak (12,713') and Longs Peak (14,259') from its north shore.
The trail continues over Nymph's north shore to an opening in the forest (.8 miles) with clear views of Longs Peak and Glacier Gorge. Travel moderates near the Lake Haiyaha split and veers right over a bridge spanning Dream Lake's outlet (1.1 miles : 9.912'). The lake's .35 mile (end-to-end) shoreline is accessible for fishing.
The trail follows the shore and steepens up Dream's tumbling inlet to Emerald Lake (1.8 miles : 10,090'). Emerald Lake fills a deep bowl carved by Tyndall Glacier from the eastern flanks of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain (12,324'). Tyndall Glacier, located in a saddle between these mountains, is one of five active glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park and Emerald Lake's primary benefactor. The lake's steep and rocky shoreline makes exploration difficult, though a clear path where many have passed circles north.
- Those with extra time should consider a side trip to Lake Haiyaha (10,220'), which is only .95 miles and +308' (one-way) from Dream Lake. See Related Trail link above for more information.
- Mild grades, good trail conditions, and clear markings make the hike to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes ideal for snowshoeing or skiing.
- This is a very popular year-round hike; arrive early to secure parking and avoid of crowds.
- Support re-vegetation efforts by staying on designated trails through protected areas.
- This is a good 1st hike for those acclimating to higher elevations.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- There are no backcountry campsites on the hike to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald lakes. The following backcountry campsites are accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead.
- Permits are required for all overnight stays. Fires are not permitted within Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the silver metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail:
- Sourdough Backcountry Campsite (10,628')
- There is one designated site located 2.65 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead, 60 yards north of the main trail on the south flank of Joe Mills Mountain. The site is located in a level spruce bench. One bear box is available. Water is available from the North Fork of Mill Creek, Lake Helene and Two Rivers Lake.
- There are two designated sites located 4.1 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead in a spruce-fir stand east of Odessa Lake on the north side of its outlet stream. The sites are located just over the log bridge crossing of this stream. One bear box is available. Water is available from Odessa Lake and its outlet stream.
- There's one group site and four individual sites located 5.1 miles and 5.3 miles from Bear Lake Trailhead, respectively. Both are located in a mixed pine forest on the NE and NW sides of Fern Lake, respectively. Each has access to a bear box + privy. Water is available from Fern Lake and its inlet - outlet streams.
Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite (10,065')
Fern Lake Backcountry Campsite (9,530')
The trail to Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes is accessed from the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions: Bear Lake is located at the end of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. From Estes Park, take the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station entrance into the park. There is a fee to enter the park through this entrance.
Shortly after passing through the Beaver Meadows fee station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. Take Bear Lake Road until it dead-ends into the Bear Lake Trailhead area. If parking is unavailable at Bear Lake, it is possible to park at the Glacier Basin area and take a shuttle to Bear Lake.