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Distance:
0.8 Miles / 1.3 km
Type:
Loop
Difficulty:
Easy
Time to Hike:
~24 minutes
Features:
Surface Type:
Universal Access
Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Town:
Estes Park, Colorado
Directions:
40.311878, -105.645297
Added:
June 07, 2024
Updated:
June 12, 2024
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85 '

Total Change
92 '

Ascent
92 '

Descent

The Bear Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado is an easy semi-universally-accessible loop that encompasses Bear Lake and features stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Universal Access
Note that a portion of this trail is universally accessible from the parking lot and along the north shore. The trail is not accessible beyond ~0.4-miles. The southern section of the trail is not accessible.

Hike
This is less of a hike and more of a short walk with scenic views. The Bear Lake Trail is one of the most popular trails at the park as it's located at the very-end of Bear Lake Road which acts as a portal to the rest of the popular day hike lakes at the park. For hikers looking for a long day hike, consider hiking the Mills Lake - The Loch - Lake Haiyaha - Dream Lake - Nymph Lake Loop in addition to this trail to make for a long ~10-mile day hike.

The main trailhead for the Bear Lake Trail can be found at the parking lot - head in and cross the footbridge, then keep-right at the trail junction to find the loop. This track heads along the north shore first, which is universally-accessible. The trail provides several views along the shore of Bear Lake and Hallett Peak. Once the trail makes it's way around the northwestern section, you'll begin to find more stunning views of different mountains within the park like Half Mountain and Storm Peak. The southern section of the trail ascends into the hills slightly and provides some less-stunning views of Bear Lake. The trail then ends around mile 0.8 at the main trailhead.

Pets
Dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Parking
Hikers will find a massive parking lot at the coordinates provided, located at the end of Bear Lake Road. The lot is large enough to fit many dozens of vehicles as of June 2024.

Wildlife Viewing
This trail is great for viewing wildlife, especially deer, elk, and moose due to the lake's water source for drinking. If you wish to spot wildlife, your best chances are in the early morning or in the early evening. Always keep a safe distance while viewing - approx. 75-feet for elk and longhorn sheep; 120-feet for bear and moose.

Timed-Entry Reservations
Between the months of late May through early October you must purchase a timed-entry pass to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. If you wish to visitor and hike anything off of the Bear Lake Road, you must purchase a dedicated Bear Lake timed-entry pass. You can find more information about timed entry on the park's website.

Warnings
Elevation sickness: This trail sits at about 9,500 feet above sea level. Around the 7,000-foot mark above sea level, hikers may start to experience symptoms of elevation sickness including headache, muscle aches, shortness of breath, among other warning signs. In order to avoid elevation sickness it's recommended to ascend to higher elevations and take short walks to acclimate over the course of several days before taking a long or physically-demanding hike. At any time you feel elevation sickness kicking in, that's the time to turn back and head for lower altitude.

Wild animals: While rare, hikers may encounter bears or mountain lion along the trail. Again, this is rare due to the insane amount of people who hike these trails each day; however, it's smart to know that these wild animals could be on-trail. Please read-up on how to properly handle a bear or mountain lion encounter before hitting the trails.

Explore 31 trails near Estes Park, CO
  1. Parking

    40.311878, -105.645297
  2. Main Trailhead

    40.312011, -105.645789
  3. View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak

    40.312536, -105.646744
    View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak
  4. View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak

    40.312867, -105.646728
    View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak
  5. View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak

    40.313428, -105.646744
    View of Bear Lake and toward Hallett Peak
  6. View of Bear Lake

    40.313619, -105.647019
    View of Bear Lake
  7. View of Bear Lake and a glimpse into Glacier Gorge

    40.314167, -105.647506
    View of Bear Lake and a glimpse into Glacier Gorge
  8. View of Bear Lake, Half Mountain, and Storm Peak

    40.313944, -105.648864
    View of Bear Lake, Half Mountain, and Storm Peak
  9. View of Bear Lake, Half Mountain, and Storm Peak

    40.313797, -105.649522
    View of Bear Lake, Half Mountain, and Storm Peak
  10. View of Bear Lake

    40.312556, -105.649269
    View of Bear Lake
No community routes found. To add your own hike as a Community Route for this Trail guide, leave a Trip Report with an attached GPX file.

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2 Trip Reports

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Trail Guide By:
Admin user profile picture
0.8 miles / 1.3 km
Trail added
June 07, 2024
Hiked on
June 07, 2024
Updated on
June 12, 2024
0.8 miles / 1.3 km
June 07, 2024
Nice short loop around Bear Lake. Super pretty in the early morning when very few people are on the trail. By comparison, when we finished the Lake Haiyaha Loop (Mills, The Loch, Dream Lake, Nymph Lake), this trail was packed with people at 1PM. Show up early if you want to enjoy Bear Lake with some seclusion.
Hiking

Weather Forecast

In Estes Park, CO

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