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Best Easy Day Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park details 36 of the best day hikes that lead to some of Rocky Mountain's most scenic destinations.

Dream Lake

Trail Features: Outstanding Lake Views, Wildflowers Dream Lake
Trail Location: Bear Lake
Roundtrip Length: 2.2 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 9475 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 450 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 402 Feet
Highest Elevation: 9910 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 3.14 (easy)
Parking Lot Latitude 40.31196
Parking Lot Longitude -105.64581

Trail Description:

The hike to Dream Lake begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. Due to the extreme popularity of the area you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to reach the trailhead during peak tourist season.

Just beyond the trailhead the Bear Lake Loop splits off to the right, while the trail to Dream Lake branches off to the left. Most hikers will stop at Bear Lake to check out the beautiful scenes from the east shore before proceeding to their ultimate destination. If starting in the early morning you might have an opportunity to go home with some great photos of Hallett Peak reflecting off the water. If wishing to avoid the crowds that flock to this extremely popular area, I highly recommend starting in the early morning anyway.

From Bear Lake the trail makes a steady climb up to Nymph Lake. Every now and then you'll catch a glimpse of Longs Peak through the trees. Due to the heavy amount of foot traffic this area receives, much of this section of trail has been paved.

At just over a half-mile from the trailhead hikers will reach the south end of Nymph Lake, a pleasant lake ringed by pond lilies. If you continue up the trail for a short distance you'll have a nice view of Hallett Peak standing sentinel over the lake.

hallett peakAs you proceed around the lake you'll encounter a fairly steep climb for a short section that includes an outstanding view of Longs Peak off to your left. Continuing higher will provide spectacular views of Hallett Peak as well. This section of trail, between Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, also offers an abundance of wildflowers during the summer.

At roughly 1.1 miles from the trailhead you'll arrive at the junction for the trail that leads to Lake Haiyaha. To continue on towards Dream Lake hikers should turn right and walk the short distance to the foot of the lake.

The views of 12,713-foot Hallett Peak and 12,324-foot Flattop Mountain from the east shore of this beautiful subalpine lake are simply outstanding. In between the two mountains is the Tyndall Gorge, with the Tyndall Glacier just barely visible from this angle.

It was at Dream Lake several years ago that my wife and I came across a group of about 30 Buddhist monks from Vietnam. They were taking part in a Buddhist monk convention in Estes Park, and decided they wanted to do a little hiking in the mountains - while dressed in traditional clothing. We chatted with a couple of them, and even had our picture taken with one of them. It was probably one of the most unique and memorable hikes that either of us has ever had.

Dream Lake

If you have the energy and wish to explore more of the Tyndall Gorge area, you will have the option of continuing along this same trail for another two-thirds of a mile to visit Emerald Lake, another incredibly beautiful subalpine lake.