25 In Colorado/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Travel

Hiking to Four Lakes in the Rocky Mountains

After many, many trips simply passing through Colorado, I finally made it to the Rocky Mountains. After staying with my Uncle Brad in Denver for a few days, the three of us made an excursion to Estes Park. I had been recommended the hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake and it sounded like the perfect hike.

» Bear Lake «

The shuttles were still running so we got to take the little bus right to the Bear Lake parking area. At the trailhead, if you veer left you get to Bear Lake and it’s simply a short stroll from there. The trail from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake is only around 3.5 miles round trip and it’s truly a gem in the Rocky Mountains. 

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Bear Lake is a very popular location for sunrise! Brad, Matt and I walked all around the lake and found ourselves saying, ‘Wow!’ at just about every turn. You can get beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and loads of evergreens. 

» Nymph Lake «

If you continue on a little over half a mile on the trail, you’ll come upon Nymph Lake. This lake is the smallest-looking lake of the four you come across, but it’s most defining feature are all of the lily-pads floating along the top. It gives a definite green look to the entire lake, but it’s beautiful in its own way.

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A view of Nymph Lake from above! You definitely do some climbing on this trail.


A beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains.

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I really enjoyed this section of the trail. As you draw nearer to Dream Lake there are some pretty fields and even more beautiful mountain views. I love the way they really take shape as you get higher and higher in the mountains. 

» Dream Lake «

Just about a half mile from further from Nymph Lake is Dream Lake. It was my favorite of the four lakes on this hike. I love the mountain views the most here, I love the turquoise-colored water, the trees that surround it and the peaceful feeling that this view brings with it. I mean, they call it Dream Lake for a reason.


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Even continuing along the side of the lake it’s beautiful. Plus, the water is so clear that you can see that it’s just full of fish!

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This bright blue bird was just so striking! I love the little speckles on the feathers.   rocky-mountains-14-of-27

» Emerald Lake «

The last of the lakes on this trail was Emerald Lake. It felt the most secluded, since not everyone goes all the way up to this lake. The air was very chilly and it really gave the feeling of being up in the mountains since it’s all you could see all around you. While we were up there a Swedish man braved the extremely cold water and swam across the entire lake! Brave, silly soul.


» Bear Lake at Sunrise «

As I mentioned above, Bear Lake is notorious for it’s beauty at sunrise. Matt and I woke up well before the sun and drove up to this trailhead. We could hear the elk bugling as we drove, which was so cool! I had been hoping that we would be there in time to hear it! 

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I loved being able to give Matt a great birthday present – his wish was to get to photograph a sunrise in the Rocky Mountains.


The sunrise here isn’t your typical bright colors and sun popping up behind the mountains. Instead, it illuminates the mountains, turning them into a firey orange color. 


One of my husband’s amazing shots. He’s so very talented.


Look at the amazing reflection in the water. 


This elk wasn’t bugling by the time we saw him, but it was still cool to get to see this guy so close up!

» Estes Park Bonus – The Stanley Hotel «


The Stanley Hotel is known for being haunted and even better known for The Shining! The movie was filmed inside this hotel! Although we didn’t get to stay here (although, that’s now on my list), Brad, Matt and I had dinner and drinks here and it was just the perfect way to cap of a beautiful day in the Estes Park area and our first real trip to Colorful Colorado.

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  • Reply
    Debbie de Juan nee Keating
    November 9, 2016 at 10:45 am


    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 12, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      It’s definitely a beautiful hike! 🙂

  • Reply
    Samantha Elisabeth
    November 14, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I didn’t even know this hike existed! Now I definitely need to plan to do this (maybe in the spring since winter is coming!). Your photos are gorgeous, and I love all the colors! I can’t even imagine how stunning it was in person.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 14, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      I think spring, maybe even summer is the best idea! We already saw some snow – and part of the park was closed from snow when we there in September! It’s totally worth it though! Cheers!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful hike! I love the look of Nymph Lake – so pretty. The Elk picture is very cool. I really wanted to see one in Finland but we weren’t lucky enough. I have to visit the Rocky Mountains one day. Looks awesome.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 14, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      They’re all beautiful and each in their own way! I’ve only seen elk in the U.S., but they’re in a lot of states here! So, if you go to Arkansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, etc. you have a good chance of seeing them! I want to get back to the Rockies, this was all I saw of the National Park! Still a lot to see!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Man, I love Colorado. It’s my most favorite state of all. I won’t be back to the states for awhile, but when I do I’ll definitely be making a pit stop. I’ll share this with my friends as so many of them live there! Thanks for the tip and gorgeous shots!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Colorado is definitely a beautiful state! I’ve been to all 50 states now and it’s working its way toward the top.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    So pretty and your photos are amazing! I love the pictures of the lakes and how they reflect the images of the trees and mountains! I loved looking through your blog can’t wait for more posts!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you so much! The lakes here are stunning and Bear Lake is especially reflective! Thanks for checking it out and taking the time to comment! Cheers!

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    November 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Estes Park in Colorado is so beautiful. I enjoy hiking around there and will add of few of these lakes for my next trip.

  • Reply
    Go Go Brownie Mission
    November 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

    This sounds and looks amazing! Stunning photos ^^

  • Reply
    Svet Dimitrov
    November 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Paige, I adore reading your articles and pondering at the mesmerising photos you have taken! Your blog definitely goes by its name :))

    And what a gorgeous place with even more gorgeous names – Emerald Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake.

    Crystal clear waters, fresh and crisp air – I can easily spend weeks there.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    All these photos are just breathtaking. I love Colorado and can’t wait to visit again. I loved Nymph Lake. So lovely and peaceful. Glad you finally got a chance to go 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth Daubner
    November 15, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Your pictures are stunning! I can’t wait to get out there and co camping. Your post makes me even more excited!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Wow this looks like a great place to go hiking! I really like your photos too! I’ve only visited once but would love to go back.

  • Reply
    Shemylah Hooda
    November 16, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Your photos have me CRAVING my next outdoor adventure! I’ve always wanted to visit the Rocky Mountains and my husband and I love hiking. Can’t wait to cross this place off my bucket list!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 6:41 am

    We’ve hiked to Bear Lake, but didn’t have time to get to the other three. I love how the further up you get, the fewer people you find on the trail. The hike to Bear Lake in the summer was really crowded. Do you know if there is backcountry camping allowed off of this trail?

  • Reply
    Karen McGarr
    November 16, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Stunning pictures, I feel like I was just there. Thank you!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 10:31 am

    You had me at elk and the hotel used for filming the Shining! Do you remember if the film was actually based in the Rocky Mountains? I might have to research it :). All the photos look amazing. I would definitely like to explore the Rocky mountains and hike some of these lakes.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I am not an outdoors enthusiast by any stretch. However, these photos have inspired me to get out and explore. I want to spend next year hiking and getting in touch with nature.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2016 at 6:14 am

    The scenery is spectacular right throughout the Rocky Mountains. My favourite is Bear Lake. The reflections of the mountains and trees in the water are stunning.

  • Reply
    Vidya Purohit
    November 19, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Incredible photography! Interesting & adventurous experience. I loved specially bear lake at sunrise, awesome view. I have added this place in my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 22, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Thank you so much! It’s a really gorgeous spot to catch the sunrise, and it’s just different from many other sunrise spots I’ve experienced. I think you’ll enjoy it very much when you make it there! Cheers!

  • Reply
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