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What to Wear On An Emerald Lake Hike

The hike to Emerald Lake is considered to be one of the most breathtaking, classic backpacking trips in Durango, Colorado. The views will leave you absolutely speechless. The elevation rockets to over 2,000 feet in 10 miles with a steep climb to reach the water. The adventure is 20 miles round trip and is worth every mile once you reach the incredible lakes with crystal clear water and a mind blowing view. It is very important to wear the right clothing and make sure you’re completely prepared for the long but thrilling journey. Because Emerald Lake is in Colorado, and the weather is quite unpredictable in the state, it’s important to always be prepared. Make sure to grab the following items when planning your trip.

A Jacket

The most recommended time of the year for backpacking to Emerald Lake is late Summer because snow is very common in the mountains (even in June). You must be prepared for the cold that may come, so you will need a warm jacket. I promise you, you will thank yourself for bringing it. Summers can get quite hot in Colorado, especially when you’re hiking and sweating, but towards the evening it can get chilly.

Thermal Clothing

Thermal clothing is also highly recommended when backpacking. Thermal shirts and pants are lightweight and comfortable, perfect for hiking in the Rockies. You won’t feel like you are wearing much, but what is important is that they keep you warm when it’s cold and not too warm when the Colorado sun is beating down on you. Investing in thermal pants and shirts is recommended because they will never let you down on a hike like this one. Wearing thermal is ideal in keeping you the most comfortable on the journey.

Hiking Boots

These are a MUST. It is very important to have comfortable shoes. You can buy hiking boots at any sporting goods store, or even Walmart has a great brand called Ozark Train. They are very good quality and are quite comfortable–I even own a pair myself!

Endeavor Convertible Pants

Endeavor convertible pants are highly recommend to everyone who hikes, not only for Emerald Lake hikers. The pants are lightweight and comfortable, and if the unpredictable weather includes a shower or two, they dry lightening fast. These pants help keep sweat at a minimum and on hot days can easily be converted into shorts. They’re perfect for the journey to Emerald Lake specifically because once you hit the higher altitudes, the chances of rain (or snow!) increase dramatically and you are going to need to stay dry.

Outdoor Pro Socks

Since you will be doing some serious walking, you are going to need great hiking socks to keep your feet comfortable. Blisters will not be an issue with Outdoor Pro socks and they can be found at many sporting goods stores (even at your local Walmart for a more affordable price).

Lastly, purchasing waterproof gear will be a very smart investment. As I mentioned earlier (and keep mentioning, hint hint!), Colorado’s weather can change quickly and dramatically, especially in the Rockies where it’s bound to be chillier. If there is anything you should take away from this article it’s that you need to be prepared for the worst. These items are essentials in any Colorado hiker’s manual, and if you’ve got them–you’re ready for a great backpacking trip to the gorgeous Emerald Lake!

*Every year the Bureau of Land Management Colorado implements seasonal closures of trail access across the state to reduce disturbance to wintering wildlife. These closures usually take place between December & April. Please see BLM Colorado's interactive map of seasonal closures before planning your outdoor activities.

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