Bierstadt Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Bierstadt Lake is located in Larimer County, Colorado and within the Rocky Mountain National Park. Near McHenrys Peak and Longs Peak, there are "spectacular views" of the Continental Divide at the lake. The Bierstadt Lake Trailhead is located about 6.5miles from the turn-off at U.S. Route 36 into the Rocky Mountain National Park. During the summer, shuttle buses provide transportation to the trailhead.
The lake sits atop a lateral moraine on the side and end of Bartholf Glacier and drains into Mill Creek. It is named for Albert Bierstadt, a noted landscape artist, whose 1870s paintings of Longs Peak and Bierstadt Lake are among the Denver Art Museum's collection.
Bierstadt Lake rests on a plateau on the Bierstadt Moraine, which is a "massive" moraine created by debris left from the receding Bartholf Glacier. The glacier, never more than 8miles long, "originated on the highest mountain in the park". Because it was a steep glacier, "its gouging action was vigorous". Glacial lobes at Glacier Gorge, Loch Vale, and Flattop Mountain joined and moved iced in Barthlolf Park. Debris trapped in the ice created the Bierstadt Moraine that lies between Glacier and Mill Creeks and is more than 1miles wide and is more than 900ft above the floor of Bartholf Park. The lake was formed when a dam was made from glacial debris deposits. Water from the lake drains into Mill Creek within the Mill Creek basin, which is a flat valley with a scenic meadow. Author Lisa Foster describes the long glacial ridge as "one of the most dramatic lateral moraines in the Rocky Mountain National Park". On the north side of the moraine is Hollowell Park and the Mill Creek Basin. The steep south side sits above Bear Creek Road.
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Bierstadt Lake Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
102 reviews
Google
4.9
TripAdvisor
  • I really enjoyed this hike. The views on the first mile up a really steep switchbacked section are just amazing. The mountains and valleys are breathtaking. This is really steep. My sister and I are i...  more »
  • Uphill switchback trail up to the top and then most flat walk out to the lake. Moderate hike but trail is easy to walk and navigate. The lake is incredible and the reflection view from the water is be...  more »
Google
  • Amazing place saw a moose and two very friendly ducks!
  • It's as kitschy as the paintings of the namesake, i.e. beautiful. Also, it's not as close to a parking lot as e.g. Bear Lake, so you won't drown in tourists.

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