Lake Haiyaha, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Lake Haiyaha - 6.95 miles

Glacier Gorge Trailhead

The rugged terrain of Chaos Canyon meets Lake Haiyaha

The rugged terrain of Chaos Canyon meets Lake Haiyaha

Round-Trip Length: 6.95 miles (includes unimproved segments)
Start-End Elevation: 9,240' - 10,221' (10,233' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +981' net elevation gain (+1,231' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Lake Haiyaha - 6.95 Miles Round-Trip

Lake Haiyaha is accessible from two popular trailheads in Rocky Mountain National Park: The Bear Lake Trailhead provides a maintained and more direct route, while the Glacier Gorge Trailhead follows a longer, slightly more challenging one that includes 1.3 miles of unimproved trail.

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Hikers should have little trouble on this lightly used alternative through a cluttered, unspoiled forest.

Haiyaha is an indigenous Indian word meaning 'rock', which aptly describes this secluded, boulder-riddled lake setting in lower Chaos Canyon. Hallet Peak (12,713') and Otis Peak (12,486') stand over Lake Haiyaha on the Continental Divide; the glacier between them carved out this canyon millennia ago, churning and depositing boulders throughout the basin:

The Loch Vale Trail rises steadily through young aspen and mixed pine to Alberta Falls (.85 miles : 9,423'). A moderate climb continues to the North Longs Peak Trail split (1.6 miles : 9,768'), where it banks southwest and levels through a narrow gorge between Thatchtop Mountain (12,668') and the Glacier Knobs.

The trail drops to Glacier Junction, where you'll bear right (north) onto the unimproved trail to Lake Haiyaha. No horses are allowed beyond this point.

The unimproved trail undulates - abruptly at times - through a busy subalpine forest. Despite its unmaintained classification the trail is fairly well defined and easy to follow (remain vigilant as snow, overgrowth, or animal tracks can obscure the path).

The trail reaches an outdated 'End of Trail' / directional sign for Haiyaha near a small pond (2.6 miles : 9,880'); simply follow the sign's guidance and continue on. Take a few steps off trail into clearings by the pond for good views of the Continental Divide.

The trail crosses three small footbridges in quick succession just past an opening in the forest along a south-facing slope. It makes a hairpin turn west (left) over the third bridge (2.9 miles : 10,065') and steepens up uneven switchbacks to the Lake Haiyaha - Dream Lake Trail split (3.2 miles : 10,184').

Expect rough footing on the final .25 mile approach, especially under winter conditions. Lake Haiyaha's (3.45 miles : 10,221') shore is guarded by large boulders and talus, requiring nimble feet and minor scrambling to move about. The northeast corner provides the most direct views up Chaos Canyon. Look for summer raspberries amid the boulders.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 17.844 W105 38.762 — Split for unimproved trail to Lake Haiyaha
  • N40 18.013 W105 38.934 — Continuing towards Lake Haiyaha
  • N40 18.082 W105 39.054 — Sign for Lake Haiyaha, continue towards Lake
  • N40 18.077 W105 39.185 — Continuing on through forest
  • N40 18.216 W105 39.386 — Cross creek on footbridge; trail hairpin turns west
  • N40 18.253 W105 39.465 — Final marked split to Lake Haiyaha
  • N40 18.224 W105 39.632 — Final approach through large boulder field
  • N40 18.238 W105 39.658 — Lake Haiyaha

Worth Noting

  • Lake Haiyaha can alternatively be reached via the Bear Lake Trailhead (3.9 miles roundtrip). The trail is shorter, has less elevation gain and is fully maintained. Anticipate more traffic, however, as much of the route is shared by those venturing to Dream and Emerald Lakes.

  • Chaos Creek exits Lake Haiyaha from its northeast corner; those with good navigational skills can follow it a very short distance down valley to the seldom visited Chaos Canyon Cascades.

  • Those seeking a comparably long dayhike with more points of interest can create a 6 mile loop by starting at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and returning to the Bear Lake Trailhead. Instead of retracing your steps from Lake Haiyaha, continue north towards Dream Lake: this route travels clockwise to Dream, Nymph and Bear lakes. From Bear Lake a .5 mile (downhill) spur leads to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and completes the loop.

Directions to Trailhead

The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located 8.4 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on Bear Lake Road.

Just beyond the Beaver Meadows entrance station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located on the left side of the road and has limited parking.

Additional parking and alternative access can be found at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This will add an additional 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
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Trip Reports

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