Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
45.00 ft (13.72 m)
Trail type
0.60 mi (0.97 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This trail stands a head above in terms of ecological variety, accessibility, and kid friendliness. Even though it is a mere 0.6 miles in length and does not gain any notable altitude, views of Hallet and Longs Peak abound, and early birds are especially privileged to enjoy breathtaking reflections of these jagged behemoth mountains reflected in the morning calm of the subalpine lake.

During the height of tourist season, you'll likely need to utilizing the free park shuttle to the trailhead, as the parking lot typically fills by 7:30 a.m.. An interpretive guide is available courtesy of the Rocky Mountain National Conservancy for a small price, and a guide can really enhance the already stunning hike by highlighting national, geological, and historical information on thirty points around the loop. 

A remarkably hot fire ravaged the area in the early 1900s as a result of careless campers. The fire burned with such impressive temperatures that it cracked several slabs of granite in the area. Massive aspen groves flourished in the newly nutrient enriched soil, resulting in a breathtaking golden spectacle in the fall, speckled by lodgepole, spruce, fir, and pine. 

The trailhead to the Bear Lake Loop also offers access to Nymph, Dream, + Emerald Lakes, Lake Bierstadt, Lake Haiyaha, and more.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round


Open from

May 15 to October 15


Kid/Family-friendly. ADA-accessible path. Heart of National Park.


Extremely crowded during the summer. Limited parking.

Trailhead Elevation

9,475.00 ft (2,887.98 m)

Highest point

9,520.00 ft (2,901.70 m)


Big vistas
ADA accessible

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


As a photographer, I'm always after the most amazing lighting conditions and fortunately the only other souls I encounter may be a handful at best of advanced photographers and pros like myself. Vehicle parking is not an issue, the trail is silent and you can experience your own ZEN moments as you sit and watch the entire sunset. Photo tip: If you are here to shoot this scene, the lake takes a dramatic turn for CALM the moments before the sun sets. The mid-day sun creates a steady breeze that causes ripples on the surface of the lake which of course do not produce mirror-like reflections. The Bear Lake overlook scene was initially accessed from the spur-trail off the Lakes Loop Trail. You can look up from the lake and spot the grove of Aspens. Unfortunately, the end destination is a bush-whack and boulder climb adventure using headlamps and I lucked out getting here just before the alpenglow! My partner hikers/photogs followed their "hunch" based on their guestimate and missed the event. I advise a daylight excursion and practice run, and to return for sunrise while the route is still fresh on your mind.
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