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Bear Lake Nature Trail – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Bear Lake, a beautiful alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, can be easily circumnavigated along the Bear Lake Nature Loop Trail—a 0.65-mile interpretive trail, with 30 numbered stops explaining the points of interest, offering views across the water toward ridges of aspen and evergreens backed by 12,000-foot mountains.

The Bear Lake Nature Trail is 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 (required as of the implementation of the permit entry system in 2020) to reach the trailhead during peak tourist season.

Several trails leave from Bear Lake Trailhead, including a multi-lake adventure to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. As you hike around the lake, be sure to make your way through the trees to find yourself on the lakeshore—from the shore, you will be rewarded with fantastic views of towering mountain peaks.

Across the lake near marker #12, look up the deep trough in the terrain known as Glacier Gorge—Half Mountain stands above the far side of the gorge, behind that is Longs Peak, the highest summit in Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,259 feet tall.

Another stand-out view can be enjoyed near the beginning of the hike (if you hike counter-clockwise to follow the brochure) that features Hallett Peak towering above the glistening water— the jagged peak, which has steep cliffs rising to 12,713 feet, is one of the most distinctive mountains within the park.

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