There’s nothing like the cool air and scenic views that you’ll find when you visit an alpine lake. Several of the most stunning ones can be found right here in the United States, attracting hikers of all skill levels each year. Here are five of the top alpine lakes to visit for your next hike.
Gem Lake -Colorado
Surrounded by granite cliff walls, Gem Lake is a popular spot in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike from Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to the lake is a steep one, but the views are well worth it, especially once you reach the water. The trail to Gem Lake is only about 1.75 miles long, but you can continue on to Cow Creek Trail or Balanced Rock Trail if you aren’t ready for the hike to end.
Crater Lake – Oregon
Located in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake has 90 miles of hiking trails — although some might still be closed by snow as late as June or early July. A few of its most popular trails (in order from easy to strenuous) include Castle Crest, Plaikni Falls, Discovery Point, Annie Creek, Garfield Peak and Union Peak.
Tenaya Lake – California
Often referred to as the “Jewel of the High Country,” you’ll find Tenaya Lake in California’s Yosemite National Park. Some trailheads that begin at this mile-long lake are Clouds Rest, Half Dome, Cathedral Lakes and Yosemite Valley floor. The best time to visit is when the Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120) is open, which is typically from May/June to October.
Lake Tahoe – California
There’s no lack of hiking trails around Lake Tahoe, which straddles Nevada and California and is the largest alpine lake in North America. You can follow the 172-mile Tahoe Rim Trail (difficult) along the shoreline, or you can opt for a more moderate-level hike like Star Lake Trail, Mount Rose Trail or Floating Island Trail.
Yellowstone Lake – Wyoming
With 141 miles of shoreline, Yellowstone Lake is the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. Some of the popular trails near the lake include Storm Point, Pelican Cone and the Thorofare and South Boundary trails. The best time to visit is August through October, although snow is possible in September and October.
Find all your hiking gear
Whether you plan to explore an alpine lake for a couple of hours or a few days, make sure you pack all of the gear you’ll need — from a backpack and sleeping bag to a tent and winter gear.
At Outdoors Geek, you can rent or buy everything you’ll need for your next hiking adventure. Check out the large selection in our store at 4431 Glencoe St. in Denver.