Trail Snapshot: Jewel Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 6.4 mile Round Trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: Approx 3-4 hrs Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9240′ at Trailhead
- Elevation Gain: +727′
- Seasons: May-September
- Dogs: Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Jewel Lake in Glacier Gorge
- Denver Drive Time: 2 hr
- Driving Directions to Glacier Gorge Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Waterfall, wildlife: elk, deer, marmots, moose; meadows, lakes, streams, wildflowers, aspen trees
- Activities: Hiking, photography, fishing
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for Jewel Lake RMNP, Colorado
The trail to Jewel Lake begins at either the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (see driving directions above), or at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions). Because the Glacier Gorge Trailhead has more limited parking, you may need to drive further up to Bear Lake. There you’ll find a short connector trail that will put you on the path to the Glacier Gorge Trail system. In the event that parking at Bear Lake is full, you’ll then need to park at the Park & Ride near the Bierstadt Trailhead and take the bus into the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link.
The Hike to Jewel Lake RMNP
Hiking to Jewel Lake takes you into the Glacier Gorge Trail system with many wonderful destinations including Mills Lake and Ribbon Falls. Be sure to review the different RMNP destinations below to know your options. The first destination–and one you can’t miss because it’s right along the trail–is at .8 miles, Alberta Falls. After the waterfall, the trail ascends toward an eventual trail junction. The way to Jewel Lake is to follow the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale trail that bears right. This trail climbs steadily for about another half mile until arriving at a second major trail junction with three options. The left-hand trail leads into Glacier Gorge and eventually to Jewel Lake.
List and Links of Destinations From Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Black Lake
At 2.8 miles, hikers will arrive at the edge of Mills Lake. Mills is much larger, and the path to Jewel Lake skirts its eastern shoreline for about 1/2 a mile.
Jewel Lake is surrounded by extensive marshes, that have a green beauty of their own. Because the foot traffic dies off quite a bit when past Mills Lake, you’ll likely find Jewel a quieter spot for a picnic and a good place to fish for brook trout.
Tips & Resources for Hiking Jewel Lake in Glacier Gorge RMNP :
- A Favorite Spot: I’ve had the chance to spend many weeks backpacking in RMNP, and the Glacier Gorge campsite that is just beyond Jewel Lake is one of the best in the Park. It must be reserved, and only those who call into the backcountry office early in the season get the chance to book it.
- Parking: As always, go early. If the parking lot is full at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there is a shuttle available to take you to the trailhead, or you can park at the Bear Lake Trailhead.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Conditions: Click for RMNP Trail Conditions
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Rain Gear Recommended: On every occasion I’ve been into Glacier Gorge, it’s been gorgeous weather–and it rained. So, bring Rain gear. In the summer months, thunderstorms can form quickly in this area, especially in the afternoon.
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- After the Hike: Inkwell Brew Coffee
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to J. Gempler for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike to Jewel Lake RMNP.
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions