Hike to Nymph, Dream, Emerald, and Haiyaha Lakes

Bear Lake Trailhead, Estes Park, Colorado, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    5.5 Miles

Family Friendly

This 5.5 mile roundtrip hike in Rocky Mountain National Park offers stunning views of alpine lakes. If you have a little extra time, bring your fishing gear with you.

From the Bear Lake Trailhead, the path to Nymph Lake is a moderate paved trail. At the lake there are several places to sit and take in the scenery. This is also where you'll find the most people. From here, continue up the trail towards Dream Lake. On the way, the trail forks. The left will take you to Lake Haiyaha, but head to the right, which will take you to Dream Lake. The views here are amazing, and the lake is full of trout.

From Dream Lake, continue on to Emerald Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park is home to five active glaciers, one of which is Tyndall Glacier. Located in the saddle of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, this dominates the views from Emerald Lake. This is a great place to stop for a quick snack.

From Emerald Lake, retrace your steps back down to the Lake Haiyaha and Dream Lake junction and follow the trail to the right towards Lake Haiyaha. This moderate trail switchbacks trough a dense pine forest and offers some amazing views of the Glacier Basin area. Continue straight where the trail splits (taking the trail to the left will take you to Mills Lake and The Loch). The majority of this trail is very well maintained and easy to navigate, but the last 150 feet will take some negotiating. The trail ends at a small pond on the left hand side, but continue to walk through the large rocks on the right toward an old twisted pine tree. Once you reach Lake Haiyaha, you'll see Chaos Canyon lies between Otis Peak (on the left) and Hallett Peak (to the right).

To get to the final lake, head back towards Dream Lake and continue towards the parking area. Bear Lake could be a good place to start the hike, but most of the crowds in the area head there first so it's smart to make it your last stop. The Bear Lake Loop is a relaxing lakeside trail with awesome views.

Pack List

  • Hiking gear (boots, sunscreen, hat, etc.)
  • Tripod
  • Camera
  • Lee Big Stopper Filter(for long exposure photos)
  • Lunch
  • Jacket
  • Water (or bring a water filter)
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Overall rating: 

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This ended up being one of my favorite hikes so far. A week after about 12-14" snow hit the area the trail was slick but easy to follow and get around. We made the loop from the lakes back around to Alberta Falls and it made for a wonderful morning hike. Once we passed Emerald Lake we didn't see another person for 2-3 hours, and it was the most peaceful thing I've done. Go support your Nat'l Parks and Get Outside.

3 months ago
3 months ago

This is a wonderful day hike with lots of opportunity for photos if you're a photography buff! From Bear Lake to Nymph, it can be a bit hot in summer as you're hiking up through a very exposed area. Bring sunscreen. We had the opportunity to see a family of elk (baby included) cross about 20' in front of us! Tons of families with kids in this portion of the hike. I found the hike to dream lake much more enjoyable as it's more tree coverage, but also a lot of green lush trees and ample waterfalls. Dream lake is a good place to stop for a snack and enjoy the peaceful view. Continuing on to Emerald Lake. Some storms passed over and it got quite cool and windy so be sure to pack a light jacket in summer. The weather changes really fast! Emerald is a beautiful view with the snow capped glaciers behind. On to Lake Haiyaha which I feel was the highlight of the hike! Bring bug repellent though, tons of mosquitoes!! The Haiyaha hike is the most challenging of the series, we only saw a few other couples trying it. There are some fantastic views at numerous spots along the way. Follow the directions listed under the original trail description as we thought the lake was a large pond initially. Had to scramble over some pretty hefty boulders but well worth it. The boulders open up to a stunning view! Haiyaha is turquoise blue and has snow capped glacier rock as a back drop! So worth the hike! All in all, a full day hike but well worth the tired legs!

7 months ago
7 months ago

This was the most populated hike on our trip to Colorado. Although, that did not take away from its beauty. You'll start to lose significant hikers after Dream Lake. The terrain was beautiful and diverse through all three lakes. We took our 2 year old son and he was able to hike a significant portion on his own. The trail is well marked and maintain, there should be no issues with those aspects. I could have looked at Dream lake for hours. It might have been my favorite scenic view during our trip. When someone mentions Colorado, I think of Dream Lake.

9 months ago
9 months ago

My daughter and I did most of this hike and now I wish we had continued on to Haiyaha as well. This hike made her fall in love with Colorado.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Definitely a crowded area but great scenery

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

One of the best hikes I've ever done, WAY more fun in the snow ;)

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

So many lakes in a short span, a great workout, overall I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a popular hike for good reason; the 5 lakes offer different views of the surrounding mountains, each one equally breathtaking. With minimal elevation gain throughout the hike, it is well-suited for all skill levels. We choose to combine this hike with Loch Vale and Alberta Falls to make a 10-mile loop. Great way to spend the morning!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Arrived early morning to beat most of the crowds. Getting there early we were also able to see quite a few Elk at Bear Lake Trailhead and around Nymph Lake. Spectacular views along the way to the lakes!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Had the amazing opportunity to visit colorado for a week. My girlfriend and I drive up the park just for this hike. It was an amazing experience. Cannot wait to go back.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Although at times it can get a little crowded, this is a great, simple way to get outside & enjoy some stellar views. I'd recommend hitting it earlier, to avoid some of the crowds. In winter, it'd be best to have some crampons or snowshoes.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

We did the hike to Dream Lake and it was a real treat to see Nymph and Emerald along the way. Be sure to go during off season to avoid the crowds. More enjoyable, better hiking weather, and you get the views all to yourself!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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