Distance (Round-trip): 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,090 ft
The Gem Lake trail is one of the oldest trails in Estes Park. As you are going up, the two-mile trail sometimes seems a lot longer than two miles, however it makes up for this with magnificent views of all of Estes Park.
The trail has many rocky switchbacks, and it winds through gorgeous aspen, pine, spruce, and fir forests with wildflowers growing on either side. Gem Lake is small, shallow, and in the shape of an ampitheater, with tons of rocky outlooks and opportunites for bouldering surrounding it. The Gem Lake trail is very popular with hikers.
There is designated horse trailer parking for two rigs, and you can access the Black Canyon trail through McGregor Ranch from this trailhead via a connecting trail about .5 miles up the Gem Lake trail.