All the information you need for the Bierstadt Lake Trail Hike at Rocky Mountain National Park
By the end of this article, you will be able to feel confident in hiking to Bierstadt Lake Trail.
Start your adventure that will include awe-inspiring views of the Glacier Gorge trail system of Rocky Mountain National Park. You will transported to breathtaking scenery that includes beautiful mountains with snow-capped peaks, colorful wildflowers, and maybe even some wildlife!
INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Highlights and Information on the Bierstadt Lake Hike
Driving Directions to the starting point at Bear Lake Trailhead from Estes Park
TO THE POINT Clear and Concise Summary Directions
2D Map showing directions to the Trailhead (start of hike)
STEP-BY-STEP DETAILED Directions for the “Map-ically Challenged!”
3D Map showing topographical detail of the trail
Highlights and Information Before You Start
(This hike is long, and you should have a much deserved “Bier” when you get back to your camp/camper/RV/hotel/home/cave.)
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Many people hike the Bierstadt Lake Hike from Denver or other parts of Colorado. It can get very busy in this popular national park! You may choose to ride the shuttle bus service available at Rocky Mountain National Park during the operating months May through October. Please check the National Park Service Website Here in order to see dates, times, and a map of the shuttle bus service within RMNP!
Updated Trail Conditions
Bierstadt Lake trailhead Colorado conditions can be found here. Updated Trail Conditions can be found by clicking here.
Colorado Road Conditions
Bierstadt Lake weather can be fickle, and its always important to look at the road conditions. Road Conditions in Colorado can be found by clicking here.
Depending on where you are going, and when, and who is going with you, you will need to pack certain gear. Take time before to find, purchase, and pack the gear you need. Consider our 17 things you need to pack, but didn’t think of, as well as our list of essentials for a day hike. You can even check out our guide to gifts for hikers and adventurers to give you ideas regarding items that you may need (or want!) to make your vacation even better!
Gear is really important, and give yourself the time to think, research, and plan for the things that you will most need and want during your vacation. Frankly, I even make lists for food and clothing. (But like I said, I’m a planner, people.)
Highlights and Quick Reference Guide
- Moderately easy
- Either 3 miles out to the shuttle (to take you back) or approximately 5.5 miles round trip
- About 4 hours total to the shuttle, and 7.5 round trip! (Full day!)
- 9,475 – down to 8,850 feet (bring water!)
- No fees, except the park entrance fees
- Beautiful lake views, and an incredible hike
- Kids could do this, but wow, they will be exhausted at the end!
- Doggies are not allowed (but you may see Equestrians as far as 2 miles in from the trailhead)
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To the Point Summary Directions
These directions to hike to Bierstadt Lake are clear and concise, without extra commentary! Use these directions, and if you ever feel confused, always refer to the map and directions below that are more detailed and include even more specific directions.
Miles and Directions from Bear Lake Trailhead to Bierstadt Lake
0.0 Bear Lake Trailhead
0.0 Walk Right on Bear Lake Trailhead to Flattop Mountain Trail Junction – Take this to the RIGHT
0.4 The Trail splits- Take the right branch towards Bierstadt Lake (the left goes to Flattop Mountain)
1.0 Trail splits again – Take the right branch towards Bierstadt Lake (Left goes to Mill Creek Basin)
1.3 Trail splits AGAIN! – Take the left branch toward the north side of Bierstadt lake to another small trail split. Turn Right and circle the south side to the Lake
3.0 Keep going and reach the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead where you can catch a bus back – or walk back the way you came.
Step by Step DETAILED Directions
Your days of feeling “Map-ically Challenged” are over! (Trademark on that pending!) These maps (both simple and detailed), along with exceptionally clear instructions, are all provided for you in this post!
Please note: The 3D maps in this post, and below are NOT FACING NORTH (on purpose!). Repeat: These maps do NOT face North. These maps are shown specifically for those of us who are “map-ically challenged” and need to visually see which way we are hiking. Please refer to the compass at the bottom right of the map below to show where NORTH actually is!
CLICK ON THE MAP BELOW, OR CLICK HERE, AND YOU WILL LINK TO THIS EXACT GOOGLE MAP. You can zoom in on it and take as many screenshots as you would like! If you bring up the map in Google, if you use your mouse and hit CONTROL, then you can MOVE the map to the direction in which you are ACTUALLY HEADED!!!! (Amazing!)
When you click on this, and open the map, you can then click on the link below the blue box on the left and have these directions sent DIRECTLY TO YOUR PHONE!
You can then screenshot those images, so that you can see these directions, and maps, even if you do not have wi-fi as you are hiking!
Finally – look look LOOK! AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT of the map. See that little yellow guy? Click on him when you open up the map on your phone. You can see ACTUAL PICTURES on the blue dots that people have taken. This is a GREAT resource to have. If you look at your map before you go, you can screenshot what the intersections in the trail look like to help you navigate your way, and not get lost!
Super Clear Directions!
- US 36 highway to Bear Lake Road.
- Please note these directions describe the hike from Bear Lake to Bierstadt Lake – there is another option at the end of this article.
- There is one trailhead (appropriately named Bear Lake Trailhead!) that is the easiest to get to Bear Lake Nature Trail (A trailhead is the place the trail starts from the road, which may or may not have a parking lot.)
- The Bear Lake Trailhead is about 9 miles from when you turn on twisty, turn-y Bear Lake Road from US 36. This trailhead has a large parking lot. Again, park in the parking lot and use that restroom if you need to! (If the parking lot is full, then read on, and I’ll let you know another way to get there – but remember there is always the bus system in summer!)
- When you get to the actual trailhead, you will see the huge sign for the Bear Lake Hike to your right. Take it! Walk around the lake starting to your RIGHT.
- You will go just a little bit, and then you will see a sign on your RIGHT for the Flattop Mountain Trail Junction – this will get you to the Bierstadt Lake Trail. Take it!
- In .3 miles you will then see the trail divide, take another RIGHT, and go toward the sign that says Bierstadt Lake Trail – you are on your way!
- At one full mile of walking, the trail splits again, and you again want to go RIGHT towards Bierstadt Lake Trail (the left will take you towards Mill Creek Basin or the Odessa Lake Trail.
- Take the Bierstadt Lake Trail on and on and on and on.
- IMPORTANT: You will get to a fork in the road about 2 miles or so into this adventure. Go RIGHT! STAY on Bierstadt Lake Trail. Do not go Left.
- At this point keep on the Bierstadt Lake Trail, which meets up with another trail when you are almost at the lake. These are all clearly marked, but go LEFT for just a tiny bit of time and then there will be another trail split.
- YOU HAVE ARRIVED! At this point, you can look at the lake, walk around it, and head back if you like.
- Your other option is to go to the RIGHT, for just a tiny bit, and then you will see signs that should point you to the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead and shuttle. To get to this, you will make a RIGHT off of the Lake trail and then a sharp LEFT towards the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead. The next part is super twisty, but there aren’t any turn offs and you will then find yourself back on the main Bear Lake Road, and can get a shuttle back!
- Enjoy the ride!
More Information and Resources
Final Thoughts on Bierstadt Lake Hike
This hike is tough – because of all of the twists, turns, and road splits. YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION. You simply have to pay attention, otherwise you will get lost on this one.
However, while there is a maze of trails around the lake as I mentioned above. Don’t worry! They are adequately marked, and you can’t get lost too far since the lake is a great way to get your bearings.
ONE MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: This article describes how you can get from Bear Lake to Bierstadt Lake. But there is more than one way to Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can get to this trail from the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, and while this is a much shorter option, it is much less beautiful. Sometimes it is about the road you travel, and not just where you land! But I would be remiss not to mention it.
Interested in other beautiful hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park? If you are feeling more adventurous, you can now add a walk to Alberta Falls with your kiddos, starting right at the entrance to the Bear Lake loop. It’s an easy 1.8 total mile hike, and again, well worth it. Other options are the Emerald Hike and the Dream Lake Hike!
When you are ready to finally have your National Park Family Vacation!
Hopefully, you already have all of your reservations, your tickets, and gear planned out! A last minute checklist is so important to make sure that nothing gets left behind. Here are a few extra hacks and tips for your road trip and family vacation! Want even MORE free options? Simple! Just subscribe at the bottom of this post to be part of the Van Adieu Crew and get access to the FREE Van Adieu Vault filled with itineraries, checklists, roadmaps and more!
- Confirm all reservations, tickets, and any events you may be attending (Best suggestion: Print copies of everything and have it with you.)
- Confirm the route you are going. (Best suggestion: Purchase an atlas, as in, an actual real map – on honest to goodness old fashioned paper.)
- Check all gear. (Best suggestion: Discuss this gear with everyone. Is there something that someone would like to have? For example, is someone interested in doing geocaching on the trip? Maybe a waterproof notebook and waterproof pen would be fun for them!)
- Make sure to look at our Road Trip Checklist!
- Make a shopping list, and purchase all possible groceries ahead of time. (Best suggestion: Figure out not only each meal, but also prepare snacks in individually wrapped packages to make the trip more fun and super easy!) Or try to find the best Farmer’s Market where you are going – its easy!
- Consider what you will be doing during the road trip. We have some great road trip activities for kids, and also some fantastic productive and unique activities for adults!
DAY HIKING CHECKLIST
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Tell me about your Bierstadt Lake Hike experiences! Did you think the hike was easy or difficult? I’d love to hear your opinions and your experiences! I’d love to see your pictures as well!
Adieu for now!