Gem Lake - Balanced Rock

Sheila Colorado) @sheilakintocolorado

Lumpy Ridge Trailhead - Estes Park, CO

Sun, Jul 28, 2019 at 1:15 PM - 7:15 PM

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Balanced Rock & Gem Lake Distance: 7.5 miles (in and out) Difficulty: Moderate Elevation: +1,563’ Dogs: No dogs allowed Amenities: Restrooms at TH Parking Fee: $10.00 Directions: This trailhead has recently been relocated to the northwest of the old trailhead, and the parking lot expanded. The Google Maps waypoints shown on this sight reflect the location of the new parking lot and trailhead, although the maps and satellite imagery have not been updated yet to reflect it. The turn-off to the new trailhead is approximately 1/4 mile west of the old Gem Lake Trailhead, on Lumpy Ridge Rd. From Estes Park, take the US Hwy 34 bypass (the road that goes by the Stanley Hotel). Just west of the Stanley, turn right (north) onto MacGregor Avenue (CR 43). The road makes a hard right at the entrance to MacGregor Ranch, after which it is known as the Devils Gulch Rd. Veer right, and proceed about 3/4 miles to Lumpy Ridge Rd. Turn left onto Lumpy Ridge Rd. The Lumpy Ridge Trailhead and parking area at the end of the road. Gem Lake is a small (about 0.2 acre) shallow lake located in a rocky amphitheater of Lumpy Ridge. Although it may not have the grandeur of its bigger brothers in the Glacier Gorge area of the Park, its unique beauty, coupled with the terrific views along the way and the unusual rocky landscape of Lumpy Ridge, make this a "must-see" addition to your exploration of RMNP. From the Gem Lake Trailhead, the trail heads north for a short distance until it reaches the base of Lumpy Ridge, where the grade begins to increase. Shortly thereafter, you'll intersect the trail coming up from the Twin Owls Trailhead from your left (west). Proceed to the right, and continue up the grade through a forest of ponderosa pine. As you climb, you'll see huge and unusual granite outcroppings and rock formations. As you gain elevation, the views back towards Estes Park, with Longs Peak and the other peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park in the distance, encourage you to stop and enjoy the vistas (don't forget your camera on this hike). After the first mile or so, the grade lessens somewhat, and the area becomes more heavily forested with aspen, pine and spruce. The trail then ascends steeply through some switchbacks, and soon you are at the lake. Descending from Gem Lake, you'll encounter the Balanced Rock Trail at mile three, which branches off to the left. Follow Balanced Rock Trail for a quick mile until you reach its namesake - a giant boulder that appears to be precariously balanced. This rather large boulder is the turnaround point for the hike. DISCLAIMER: Hiking is risky. Every year people are hurt and killed because they go beyond their abilities, get lost, or bring the wrong gear. I spend hours researching hikes and rely on various sources, but I can't vouch for their accuracy. I am not a professional guide, you are responsible for yourself. By signing up for this hike you acknowledge that you are solely responsible for your own safety and will do the necessary research to understand the conditions of this hike and the gear you require. Ten Essentials for Hiking 1. Navigation (map and compass) 2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen) 3. Insulation (extra clothing) 4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight) 5. First-aid supplies 6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles) 7. Repair kit and tools 8. Nutrition (extra food) 9. Hydration (extra water) 10. Emergency shelter NOTICE: More than two no-shows will be cause for your removal from the group. Consistent drops from activities within 24hrs of the activity will also be cause for removal from the group. It is not fair to others to take up an RSVP and not show up. Please only sign up for activities you are confident you will be able to attend. LUNCH: Smokin' Dave's BBQ, 228 Main St, Lyons, CO or a place of the groups choosing