Lake Haiyaha, Bear Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Lake Haiyaha - 3.9 miles

Bear Lake Trailhead

Lake Haiyaha

Lake Haiyaha

Round-Trip Length: 3.9 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,475' - 10,221' (10,244' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +746' net elevation gain (+819' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Lake Haiyaha - 3.9 Miles Round-Trip

Haiyaha - a Native American word for rock - aptly describes this secluded, boulder-riddled lake 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.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Today the glacier forms Chaos Creek, Lake Haiyaha's primary benefactor. Chaos Creek continues down valley and merges with Glacier Creek near the Glacier Junction Trailhead. Visitors will enjoy stops at Nymph and Dream lakes before turning south on a partially maintained trail to the lake:

Follow signs from Bear Lake Trailhead for Lake Haiyaha. The trail climbs 230' to the south shore of Nymph Lake (.5 miles : 9,705'). Nymph Lake is small but notable for pond lilies and terrific views of Hallet Peak (12,713') and Longs Peak (14,259').

The trail rises over Nymph's north shore to an opening (.8 miles) with good views of Longs Peak, Keyboard of the Winds and Glacier Gorge. It eases to the Lake Haiyaha - Dream Lake split along Dream Lake's outlet (1.05 miles : 9,910'). Consider a quick .05 mile excursion to see all of Dream Lake from this point.

The trail veers left toward Lake Haiyaha on steep switchbacks for .3 miles, then moderates with good views up Glacier Gorge. The trail re-enters a thick, cluttered forest and crosses a footbridge (1.65 miles) to the Lake Haiyaha - Glacier Junction access split (1.75 miles : 10,184'). The final .2 unimproved miles thread large boulders and talus to Lake Haiyaha (1.95 miles : 10,221').

Expect some minor scrambling and rough footing en route, especially under winter conditions. The lake shore is rugged and rocky, requiring nimble feet to maneuver about. Look for summer raspberries amid the boulders.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 18.714 W105 38.760 — Bear Lake Trailhead
  • N40 18.238 W105 39.658 — Lake Haiyaha

Worth Noting

  • Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are .05 miles and .75 miles (respectively) from the Dream Lake - Lake Haiyaha split, and are worthwhile side trips for those with time. Note that winter trail conditions to Lake Haiyaha are significantly more challenging than those leading to Dream and Emerald lakes; plan travel time accordingly if attempting all destinations.

  • Lake Haiyaha can also be reached from the Glacier Junction Trailhead. It's approximately 7.6 miles roundtrip, with longer travel on unimproved trail segments.

  • Park signs suggest this trail is 4.4 miles roundtrip. Current GPS measurements confirm a shorter roundtrip distance of 3.9 miles. The discrepancy occurs between the Dream-Haiyaha split: Park figures cite a 1.2 mile distance from this point to the Lake - current measurements show it to be .9 miles.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • There are no backcountry campsites on the hike to Lake Haiyaha. The following backcountry campsites are accessible from the Bear Lake Trailhead.

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays. Fires are not permitted within Rocky Mountain National Park. Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the silver metal arrowhead posted at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail:

  • Sourdough Backcountry Campsite (10,628')

  • There is one designated site located 2.65 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead, 60 yards north of the main trail on the south flank of Joe Mills Mountain. The site is located in a level spruce bench. One bear box is available. Water is available from the North Fork of Mill Creek, Lake Helene and Two Rivers Lake.

  • Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite (10,065')

  • There are two designated sites located 4.1 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead in a spruce-fir stand east of Odessa Lake on the north side of its outlet stream. The sites are located just over the log bridge crossing of this stream. One bear box is available. Water is available from Odessa Lake and its outlet stream.

  • Fern Lake Backcountry Campsite (9,530')

  • There's one group site and four individual sites located 5.1 miles and 5.3 miles from Bear Lake Trailhead, respectively. Both are located in a mixed pine forest on the NE and NW sides of Fern Lake, respectively. Each has access to a bear box + privy. Water is available from Fern Lake and its inlet - outlet streams.

Directions to Trailhead

Lake Haiyaha is accessed from the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bear Lake is located at the end of Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. From Estes Park, take the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station entrance into the park. There is a fee to enter the park through this entrance.

Just past the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station turn left on Bear Lake Road. Take Bear Lake Road until it dead-ends at the Bear Lake Trailhead. If parking is unavailable at Bear Lake, it's possible to park at the Glacier Basin area and take a shuttle to Bear Lake.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
Visitor Information:


Campground Reservations:

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Hiked this for the first time with my friend Saturday April 4th 2015. The beginning portion of the trail up until Dream Lake has been very packed down and well maintained all winter (Have done this section 4-5 times since Thanksgiving). Expect large numbers of people on the Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes trail no matter the weather conditions. The trail to Lake Haiyaha was MUCH less packed down and narrower so expect some sporadic post-holing, in some cases up to waist deep. The winter trail also did not seem to match up exactly with trail maps (number of switchbacks, etc) and in fact some distance before getting to Chaos Creek all evidence of a visible trail disappeared. So instead of trying to follow the map's depiction of the trail, we just used the topo to trailblaze our way on a more direct route without crossing Chaos Creek to reach the northeast shore of the lake and then followed our tracks in the snow back to the visible winter trail. Overall it was an incredible hike. After splitting off at Dream Lake, the only two other people we saw were two cross country skiers far on the other side of Lake Haiyaha while we were eating lunch (and this was between 12-330 on a beautifully clear Saturday). If you are looking for a trail with fantastic views, solitude from the crowds on the 4 season popular Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lake trail, and are comfortable with basic topo navigation, this is a fantastic way to spend a few hours in RMNP. "
Skylar  -  United States  -  Date Posted: April 5, 2015


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