Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a favorite destination for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Deep snow, well marked trails, wildlife and spectacular scenery make this a real Rocky Mountain winter wonderland.
To get to Bear Lake, first drive to Estes Park, pass through the town and enter Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a fee area so at least a day pass will be required to enter the park. Once inside the park, take the Highway 36 segment to Bear Lake Road. Turn south on Bear Lake Road and drive a few miles to the Bear Lake parking lot. It is an easy walk through the parking lot to the Bear Lake loop trail. The scenery here is fabulous and the trail around the lake is fairly flat and easy.
Of course there are a multitude of more difficult trails in the area for the more hardy winter hikers. From Bear Lake there are four more lakes within a two mile radius. Hikes over undulating hills on groomed trails are available to Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, Dream Lake, Lake Hiayaha and Lake Bierstadt. Fern Lake is further at almost five miles from Bear Lake.
Be sure to layer up, take plenty of food and water and wear sunglasses. Sun glare on a bright day can be brutal. Keep water bottles inside the pack instead of in the external bottle holders to keep it from freezing. Watch for elk, coyote, fox and deer and don't forget the camera. There is a huge elk herd at the base of Bear Lake Road in Moraine Park. A quick drive a mile or so through Moraine Park is worth the time to see these majestic beasts.
A yearly pass to the National Parks is a worthwhile investment for serious winter enthusiasts. There is much to explore in just this small part of Rocky Mountain National Park so just a few weekends of fun will recoup your investment and help with funds to maintain our national treasures