Estes Park, CO
After a long hike yesterday, we decided to take it easy today and just do a short 1.7 mile hike (one way) to Gem Lake. Of course, when hiking in the mountains it’s not always the distance of the hike, but the distance combined with the change in altitude that’s important. This hike turned out to be a great challenge for a shorter distance with a 1000′ elevation change.
As with many hikes, we began with a nice walk over flat terrain.
But soon we began to go up, and the “go up” part continued for the rest of the hike to the lake. The park service built nice steps into the hill side but, as usual, the distance between the steps made the going a bit more difficult than if the steps weren’t there.
About half way up the trail we began to find great views of Estes Park below, surrounded by mountains.
At one point we crossed a narrow log across a small steam. The nimble hiker’s daughter conquered this obstacle like the Flying Wallenda’s conquer Niagara Falls on a wire!
There were some interesting rock formations along the trail, but this one caught our eye.
This hike is listed as moderate, but if you’re not in good shape and/or are not use to the altitude, it would be a real challenge. At one point we went up some steps meant for Andre the Giant, but we managed to get up without much problem (with a few stops to catch a breath).
After a bit we came to Gem Lake, which is very pretty but really is more of a pond.
We climbed up a rock formation on one side of the lake to enjoy lunch with a view.
The hike back down the mountain is really nice for two reasons. One is that gravity is providing its usual assistance and the second is the great views are all in front of you.
Our visitor from the east even demonstrated some parkour running as we made our descent! Don’t know what parkour is? Neither did we, so check it out on Wikipedia.
The great views continued as we made our way down the trail.
At various points, green Aspens brightened the trail.
A few large rocks must have fallen on the trail while we were up at the lake, but our trusty daughter quickly moved them out of our way. All that strength training is really paying off!
The hike to Gem Lake is a great one if you don’t want to be on a trail all day, but still want to get a good work-out. It is short (3.4 mi. round trip) but has a steep climb up to the lake.
Tomorrow we’ll challenge ourselves with a hike of a bit more length. More on that later . . .