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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Granby/Grand Lake Area

Quick Facts

Gem Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 7,660 Feet (2387.8 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,140 Feet (355.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 8,800 Feet (2743.1 Meters)
Length: 1.8 Miles (3.0 Kilometers)
TI Topo Maps: Rocky Mountain National Park, #200

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The shallow waters of Gem Lake are cradled high among the rounded granite domes of Lumpy Ridge. Untouched by glaciation, this outcrop of 1.8 billion year-old granite has been sculpted by wind and chemical erosion into a backbone-like ridge. Signs of these erosional forces - pillars, potholes, and balanced rocks - appear midway along the trail to Gem Lake. Other highlights include spectacular views of the Estes Valley and Continental Divide, and a curious balanced rock called Paul Bunyan's Boot.

Directions from Estes Park: Drive north on MacGregor Avenue. Cross the Hwy 34 bypass and continue to a sharp right turn and sign for MacGregor Ranch. Follow the blacktop ranch road to the parking area.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Josh (Loveland, CO)
Time of Day: 9AM
Length of Time: 2 hours with a break at the lake.
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This is a tough steep hike, but it doesn't last long. Almost the entire Elev. Gain is done in a little over a mile. The trail steps are spaced a little funny, you will have to readjust your footing to keep from using the same leg to push you up. This hike is very nice with a nice reward at the top. Do some climbing, or head down the other side of the mountain to Paul Bunyan's Boot. The norths side has quite a bit more snow so be careful.
Water Availability: No water but there is a bathroom about 3/4 of the way up.

Filed By: Lauren (Wheat Ridge, CO)
Time of Day: 1:00 - 6:00pm
Length of Time: 5 hrs round trip
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I agree with the last reviewer, this was a very long 2 miles, all uphill. But, the reward is seeing and photographing Gem Lake, spend an hour up there eating lunch and just absorbing the scenery
Conditions: Conditions were dry, and warm in August for going uphill. The steps towards the end of the trail, prior to reaching Gem Lake, were steep and awkward.
Water Availability: 2 bottles; barely enough for up and down and lunch.
Recommended Clothing: shorts, t-shirt, hiking boots & stick, daypack w/provisions, light windbreaker if needed
Suggested Accessories: hiking stick

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This is a long 2 miles. Well worth the effort for a nice lunch break and spectacular views.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Gem Lake Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery This trail offers spectacular views of the Estes Valley and Continental Divide.
ICON Winter Hiking Lighter snowfall on the east side of the park leaves some low elevation trails open for hiking, without the aid of skis or snowshoes. Before each outing, check with park rangers for local snow conditions and current avalanche hazards.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, 928 Grand Avenue , Grand Lake, CO, 80447, Phone: 800-531-1019


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