Dream Lake is a pretty mountain lake sitting at almost 10,000 feet above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike is relatively easy, rising gradually (425 feet) over the 1.1 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead to Dream Lake.
Parking at the trailhead at Bear Lake is very popular and crowded in summer. Take the free shuttle from the visitors center or arrive early to beat the crowds.
The trail starts by heading south (left from the parking lot) from Bear Lake. It rises steadily for about a half mile as it goes through pine forests and heads west to the picturesque Nymph Lake. Long’s Peak is visible along most of the trail.
When the trail gets to Nymph Lake, follow it around the lake to the right (north) and up the hill. Most trails in “Rocky” are well marked, but this spot is not.
The trail becomes a little steeper for a short section as it climbs toward Dream Lake. A Rocky outcrop on the right provides a great view of Nymph Lake below and the surrounding mountains. Heading uphill, there’s another rock with a great view on the left.
After getting up the hill, the trail flattens out and crosses a wooden bridge over a stream (another great photo opportunity) before arriving at Dream Lake. Continue along the trail to right of the lake to head to Emerald Lake.