Aug 18th – We had checked out our Day Hiking Guide for a couple of nice hikes for today. It seemed that down at the end of Bear Lake Road, one of the other major roads in the park, was any number of possible hiking trails all leading to small lakes or water falls. We settled on starting with the hike to Emerald lake, then finishing with a short hike to Alberta Falls. This would allow us to park at the Bear lake Trailhead for both hikes. We had been told at the Visitors Center, as well on any number of signs and brochures, that the trail heads along Bear Lake road were very popular destinations and parking would be at a premium.
The Day Hiking Guide noted that the trail to Emerald Lake gave “hikers a great deal of spectacular scenery with relatively little effort” and, therefore, was one of the most crowded trails in the park. The guide suggested starting this hike just before sunrise! We were not likely to do this, yet we did decide to get an early start, having coffee but not breakfast before we set out.
We left our camper at 6:30 am and were on the trail by 7 am – granola bars in our day packs to munch on. Note- This timing worked out really well. We were able to get a parking place with no problem and though we did not have the trail to ourselves, we never felt crowded and were able to enjoy our stops with little company.
The trail to Emerald Lake would be a 3.6 mile out and back trail with a total elevation gain of just 600 feet. It was listed as ‘easy’ in the guide. The trail was very nice, almost paved in sections, and began a gentle ascent. It would be uphill to Emerald Lake, with the return promising to be a nice downhill. The elevation at the start of this trail was 9,475 feet. The uphill climbs still left us a bit breathless, but it was much better than the day before at 12,000 feet!
At just .5 miles, we came to Nymph Lake. It was amazing in the early morning light!
Lily pads dotted the surface. We sat and enjoyed our breakfast granola bar while we soaked in the almost fairy like quality of the lake.
Along the way we noticed the Aspen trees were just beginning to show their fall colors. In a couple of more weeks, this place would be glowing……
The trail continued upwards, providing spectacular views! The trail surface, though no longer ‘paved’ continued to be very good underfoot, with short rises followed by level sections where one could catch one’s breath.
Stopped for a photo overlooking Nymph Lake……
The trail wandered through the wood and even had bridges where it crossed the many creeks.
One section opened up into this beautiful clearing.
The sky was blue, the weather cool, and the place enchanting…..
Another .6 miles down the trail was Dream Lake – very appropriately named.
The trail followed around Dream Lake before heading upwards again.
We were following the stream upwards as it flowed between these boulders, providing the water for these lovely yellow wildflowers.
After another .7 miles, we arrived at Emerald lake. We sat and just soaked up the spirit of the mountains that was blowing on the wind across the lake.
A truly enchanting place!
After a bit, we started back. Along our way down we passed more people hiking up and congratulated ourselves for getting such an early start…..