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Emmaline Lake
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Our hike to Emmaline Lake, on Saturday, August 17th, 2013, would be our first hike this summer without stepping foot into Rocky Mountain National Park. However, the lake lies just north of the ridge that defines the northern border of the park, so we weren’t far out. We started out 1/2 mile down the 4x4 road from the Emmaline Lake/Mummy Pass Trailhead at roughly 7:50 AM. After an hour of hiking up an old dirt road, we reached Cirque Meadows just after 9 AM where I stopped for this picture looking out towards the ridge running between Fall mountain and Comanche Peak - the park’s north border.

Ridge between Fall Mountain and Comanche Peak from Cirque Meadows

Ten minutes after leaving Cirque Meadows, we were entering the Comanche Peak Wilderness in Roosevelt National Forest. I was amazed at all the tiny streams running down the slopes through this area. This was so different from our hike to Mirror Lake two days earlier: located just two mile west of Emmaline Lake, but inside Rocky Mountain National Park.

One of many small streams in Comanche Peak Wilderness

It was 9:50 AM when we stopped at this little cascade on Fall Creek for a few pictures. Normally, I’m in a hurry to get up near timberline where the views are better, but not today.

Little cascade on Fall Creek in Comanche Peak Wilderness

After two and a half hours, we scrambled up a steeper rocky section just high enough to see through the tree tops and confirm that we were actually getting closer to our destination. We were still in the forest, but short rock scrambles and mountain views were becoming part of the mix now.

View of the Rocky Mountain National Park north border from trail to Emmaline Lake

Twenty five minutes later, and nearly at the lake now, we passed another little cascade on Fall Creek. Wildflowers were scattered all around the area.

Another small cascade on the upper Fall Creek

When we stepped up for this view of Cirque Lake, with the ridge marking the northern border of Rocky Mountain National Park in the background, it was 11 AM. We couldn’t see Emmaline lake yet, but it was just a short scramble up and north. As luck (or the lack of) would have it though, the clouds chose right then to start rolling in. Many of the photos I took as we explored the cirque were disappointingly dull. On the good side, it didn’t rain.

Cirque Lake with the north border of Rocky Mountain National Park in the background

Grabbing shots whenever the sun broke through cracks in the approaching overcast, I got this picture as we finally reached Emmaline Lake. Looking at the ridge leading northwest from the lake up to Comanche Peak, I wished there was time to follow it up and around into the park for the view looking back down into the cirque: one of many hundreds of daydreams I’ve had on these hikes.

Emmaline Lake with ridge leading up to Comanche Peak in the background

This shot of the SE face of Comanche Peak was taken as we scrambled around in the cirque above the lakes. The scenery was beautiful.

SE face of Comanche Peak, along the northern border of Rocky Mountain National Park

As Suzy and I finished up our counter-clockwise circle around the cirque, I took one more shot looking down at Cirque Lake before we worked back down to the trail and started back out.

View from up in the cirque a bit, looking back down at Cirque Lake

Back at Cirque Meadows again, I noticed a couple large piles of old boards next to a patch of raspberries. Apparently, this used to be the site of an old logging mill in its day.

Debris at the site of an old logging mill at Cirque Meadows

It was about 3:30 PM when we got back to the jeep, ending another great hike. The GPS stats showed a round trip time of 7 hours, 38 minutes; with a total distance of 11.72 miles; a total elevation gain of 2,107 feet; and a max elevation reached of 11,218 feet.

Unidentified wildflowers along Fall Creek Unidentified wildflowers along Fall Creek Subalpine Fir cones Subalpine Fir cones Mother Nature’s wildflower garden Mother Nature’s wildflower garden

Mirror and Emmaline Lakes Area Topo Map

RMNP Links

National Park Service - Climbing and Mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks

U.S. National Parks Net - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Guide

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