This was our first day of hiking. We had regrouped after our Mt. Ida & Ypsilon hike plans had been snowed out. On short notice we had decided that we would try Gem Lake & Bridal Veil Falls. Some how I had gotten the notion that these two hikes were not very worthy of serious hikers, kind of like doing that killer Bear Lake Loop or Mighty Sprague Lake Circuit!! Wrong!!
The hardest part of the whole hike is deciding on which trailhead to use. The evening before, RhondaM., was reliving her hike that day to Gem Lake. She sold us on what a terrific hike, with sweet views, it was. The first mile or so of this hike is a beautiful but fairly typical Rocky Mountain trail -- but after that, the views become nothing short of spectacular!!
The entire Lumpy Ridge area is so interesting because the rock formations seem so unique. Everything is more rounded and less rugged looking. Almost like being in an entirely different place than the Rockies!
It was hard to make much time because we kept stopping to take pictures and revel in the grand views. The Estes valley with the peaks as a backdrop was breathtaking.
The trail is steadily upward with a few switchbacks but manageable. Rhonda had told us to keep our eyes open for some overlooks behind the boulders just off the trail.
These were easy enough to find because so many hikers had been up these trails, the ground was well worn from foot traffic. The entire trail basically overlooks the Estes valley. After some short switchbacks through what appears to be a canyon you finally come upon a privy that looks like the sort of thing a Baptist Pastor from Joplin would have designed. From there it is only about ľ mile up to Gem Lake.
Gem is a small lake set against a rock wall
to the northeast and a small sand beach to the west. We were fortunate to
catch it on a calm, still morning -- and we had it all to ourselves.
While Sandy set up camera and shot some great photos of the lake, I
scampered about exploring the area.
After a bit, we sat by the lake and had a snack of Cheezit Twisters and grapes. After about an hour we decide to head on to Bridal Veil Falls. We know this is going to be a push, because we had a Forums get together that evening at Lori & Big Alís. We hit the trail and it soon begins downhill (VERY STEEPLY downhill) with a number of switchbacks. This trail obviously isnít used much because itís fairly primitive and hard to follow in spots. We hike for about about 2-1/2 miles, and time seems to become our enemy. We stop and check the map and decide that there just isnít going to be time to get to Bridal Veil then back in time for dinner. Much to our sadness, we decide to head back. We arrived back at Gem right at noon and by now it was packed (and loud). There were around 15 Ė 20 people there and we could hear more coming up. Most of the crowd were folks our age and a few kids. We stopped for a bit and took the obligatory destination photo of us together and then hit the trail back home.
retrospect, this may be one of our favorite hikes. Certainly weíve
done more difficult, but this one with its great views, manageable
pace and unique rock formations won us both over. I certainly
would do this one again & again.