Lake Haiyaha, Bear Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lake Haiyaha - 3.9 Miles
Bear Lake Trailhead
|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)|
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.
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.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N40 18.714 W105 38.760 — Bear Lake Trailhead
- N40 18.238 W105 39.658 — Lake Haiyaha
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Odessa Lake Backcountry Campsite (10,065')
Fern Lake Backcountry Campsite (9,530')
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park