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Fire Weather Warning issued June 29 at 4:56AM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel
Fire Weather Warning issued June 29 at 4:56AM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Archuleta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Montezuma, Pitkin, San Juan
Fire Weather Warning issued June 29 at 4:09AM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Fremont, Hinsdale, Mineral, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache
Fire Weather Warning issued June 29 at 2:40AM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Archuleta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa, Montezuma, Pitkin, San Juan
Fire Weather Warning issued June 28 at 7:46PM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
Fire Weather Warning issued June 28 at 7:46PM MDT expiring June 29 at 8:00PM MDT in effect for: Fremont, Pueblo
Fire Weather Warning issued June 28 at 2:49PM MDT expiring June 29 at 7:00AM MDT in effect for: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
Get Outside! Hiking Gem Lake
Hikers Trek Through The Lumpy Ridge Of Rocky Mountain National Park
5:44 AM, Sep 6, 2009
3.4 miles roundtrip
About 1,000 Feet
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park
Not allowed in National Park
large paved lot, bathrooms, information signs
None at this trailhead
Members of the Denver Trailheads & Second Wind meetup groups
It may sound cliche, but Gem Lake is truly a gem in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a shallow lake in a granite rock basin in the Lumpy Ridge area of Rocky Mountain National Park. Lumpy Ridge is the rocky formation behind the Stanley Hotel.
The Lumpy Ridge trailhead is new, it was created in 2007 to replace the Gem Lake trailhead and the Twin Owls/Black Canyon trailhead.
There are two main trails at the trailhead. The Black Canyon trail is used by many rock climbers to access various routes along Lumpy Ridge. The Gem Lake trail is used by hikers and climbers. While both trails will take hikers to the trail to Gem Lake, the Gem Lake trail is shorter, just 3.4 miles roundtrip.
The Gem Lake trail takes hikers up a canyon with beautiful aspen trees. A half mile from the trailhead, hikers come to a trail split. A left turn takes hikers to the Black Canyon trail or on a 1.1 mile loop back to the trailhead. A right turn takes hikers towards Gem Lake.
Expect a lot of company on this trail. Because it is short, many visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park hike this trail. Even on a weekday afternoon, we found group after group of hikers on the trail, so many that I lost count.
"Paul Bunyan's Boot"
As you hike up, you'll pass some amazing photo stops of Lake Estes, the Estes Park Valley and a variety of mountain peaks including Longs Peak, Twin Sisters and Estes Cone.
Along the trail, don't miss the rock some call Paul Bunyan's boot. It's a large rock in a boot shape with a hole in the bottom. It's a nice place for a photo stop along the climb up. It's about 1.3 miles from the trailhead.
Another interesting stop is the privy. Yes, there is a bathroom, of sorts, about 0.2 of a mile from the lake. There's a small wooden sign that says privy, but don't expect much privacy. The single stall privy has no roof, but it's worth a visit, even if just to take a photo. After the privy, hit the trail for the last switchbacks to the lake.
Gem Lake is a nice spot for a picnic. There is a sandy beach next to the water. There are plenty of rocks to use as a resting spot. And make sure you walk around the lake and take pictures from a couple different angles. We even met one family that climbed the rocks from the backside of the lake.
If you want to add more distance to your hike, consider hiking on to Balanced Rock or taking the loop around to Cow Creek and Black Canyon.
If you have a favorite trail to share or a question about this hike, e-mail me:
Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star)
Heil Valley Ranch*
Eldorado Canyon State Park*
South Boulder Peak*
The Boulder Flatirons*
South Boulder Trailhead*
South Mesa Trail*
Rocky Mountain National Park:
Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls
Finch & Pear Lakes
Lulu City & Little Yellowstone
The Loch & Andrew's Glacier
Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness:
King, Bob & Betty Lakes
Mitchell & Blue Lakes
James Peak Area
Summit & Eagle Counties:
Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls
South Willow Falls
St Louis Lake
Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch
Exploring Fulford Cave
Our Favorite Hikes
Our Favorite Bike Rides
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