Hidden within the rugged folds of Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake Trailhead offers a wealth of stunning alpine lakes. While the trail is often overrun by travelers and tourists in the summer months, hikers can enjoy a peaceful respite from the crowds by visiting the area in the winter months. Set off from the trailhead—which affords stunning views on its own—to hike along a trail that offers a spectacular array of lakes, offering an adventure as short or long as you desire.

©Melissa Farage

At the first junction, take a right to reach the picturesque Bear Lake. Although the lake is only a few hundred feet from the trailhead, it offers one-of-a-kind glimpses of the mountains towering above. The trail to Bear Lake is handicap accessible, meaning that it can accommodate adventurers of all abilities. Hikers can stroll along the trail that stretches around the lake’s perimeter. Those who are daring can test their courage by stepping onto the frozen lake.

©Melissa Farage


After cutting back to the main trail, hikers can begin the ascent to the second lake. The trail quickly climbs in elevation, offering brief glimpses of the surrounding peaks through the pine and aspen. The path gradually levels out, winding down into the shallow lake basin that houses Nymph Lake. Travelers can stroll along the lake’s snowy perimeter to enjoy stunning views of the overlooking mountains. While hikers who are interested in exploring other reaches of the Rocky Mountain National Park can choose to turn around after arriving at Nymph Lake, those who are interested in a longer adventure can continue onward, following the signs to Dream and Emerald Lakes.


Trail Statistics

Season: Winter

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation Gain: Bear Lake: 5 feet, Nymph Lake: 230 feet, Dream Lake: 437 feet, Emerald Lake: 615

Length: 3.6 Miles (each way)

Highest Point: 10090 feet

Driving Directions to Bear Lake:

From the Beaver Meadows entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, continue on highway 35 for about 3 miles to reach Deer Junction. Take a left onto Bear Lake Road and follow the road through the park until its end.

©Melissa Farage

Leave a Reply