Which trail shall we hike today? Let’s see… Saturday was an easy hike but more of a stroll than a hike and yesterdays hike to Bierstadt Lake proved to be more of a challenge than we expected. I only later found out that it was the ‘unimproved’ trail to the lake. The trail with the switchbacks was the one to take. Who needs switchbacks when you can go straight up?
That said, for Monday’s hike, I wanted something in between. Hmm, I was feeling a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I needed to find that trail that was just right! Not too hard, not too easy, but just right.
I studied the Rocky Mountain National Park brochure. I reviewed the free trail map. Still undecided, I perused my blogging in box. Ah ha, found it. A blog I follow featured some stunning photos taken in Rocky Mountain National Park. His photos are so picturesque and beautiful that I felt compelled to lay my eyes on this amazing scenery.
However, before leaving the RV, Al wanted to review the map and info on the trail that I had planned for the day. Apparently, he had no intention of following blindly like yesterday. Gosh, I can’t imagine why especially after yesterday’s wonderful hike. His response, “I just want to make sure you haven’t picked out another ‘easy straight up’ hike”. Now would I do that? wink, wink!
So we were off to Dream Lake. It was 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning (August 18). We knew the Bear Lake Trailhead is the most popular in the entire park, but felt rather confident we wouldn’t have any trouble parking. I’d say half the campers at the Glacier Basin Campground vacated on Sunday and by Monday morning we found our campground half full, if that.
We figured if the campground was any indication on traffic within Rocky Mountain National Park, we’d be ok. And sure enough, we arrived at the trailhead and had no problem parking. We bypassed the quick walk to Bear Lake and quickly headed up the trail to Nymph Lake. Nymph Lake itself is beautiful and filled with lily pads with blooming yellow flowers. This was as far as we hiked on Saturday, not wanting to experience a problem with the altitude. The trail is easy to this point but does have a steady incline and starts at an elevation of 9,500 feet.
There were already folks coming down the trail. Yep, those are the photographers that are a tad more passionate and dedicated to photography than myself. Oh, I occasionally have those moments too, but not this trip. I’ll return at a time of year when the sun rises at about 7:00 a.m. No wait …. won’t it be cold and snowy then?
On second thought, since the Roaming Lama already captured Dream Lake at sunrise for me, you can check it out here, I don’t feel badly about sleeping in. And then this is what Dream Lake looks like when the sun is up and without snow.
Ok, my photograph isn’t quite as dramatic as the Lama’s but the scenery is still breathtaking and so worth seeing in person ……… at anytime of the day.
So far, today’s hike was so much easier than yesterday’s hike that we decided to continue on to Emerald Lake. We passed waterfalls along the way. The scenery between Dream Lake and Emerald Lake is not to be missed.
All alpine lakes are beautiful in my mind, but some are just more beautiful. That said, we found Nymph Lake and Dream Lake the most breathtaking followed by Bear Lake and then Emerald Lake.Our hike was 3.6 miles round trip with a 605 foot elevation gain (taking us up over 10,000 feet). It took us a total of about 3 hours round trip due to lots of stopping, sitting, chatting, and shutter snapping. We had an absolutely fabulous day and I thought this was the prettiest, most enjoyable hike I have ever taken. The only thing that would’ve made it perfect would’ve been a little more solitude.
If there is only one hike a visitor could take in Rocky Mountain National Park, THIS would be the one I’d recommend. It was JUST RIGHT. However, please dress and prepare for the environment. I was shocked with the number of gals wearing flip-flops or folks not carrying water and we did see a couple of young (college age) people struggling with the altitude. Altitude sickness is serious business and shouldn’t be poo pooed.
Although today’s hike was longer in mileage and higher in elevation gain than yesterday’s hike, we found it substantially easier. The trail is well-groomed and the scenery ….. amazing.