Ypsilon Lake, Lawn Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Ypsilon Lake - 8.75 Miles
Lawn Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.75 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,540' - 10,632' (10,762' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,092' net elevation gain (+2,358' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Ypsilon Lake is located 4.4 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies in a confined, heavily wooded basin on the eastern slopes of Ypsilon Mountain (13,514') and Mount Chiquita (13,069') in the Park's lightly traveled Mummy Range.
While much of the hike climbs arduously through nondescript forest, visitors will enjoy notably good cutthroat trout fishing at Ypsilon Lake, and excellent views of the Mummy Range once in the upper valley:
The Lawn Lake Trail climbs 534' to the level east bank of Roaring River with good views over Horseshoe Park on the ascent (1.0 mile : 9,074'). The trail turns north up level banks to the Ypsilon Lake Trail split (1.45 miles : 9,190').
The trail crosses over a passive section of river and turns sharply southwest for a steep climb through uniform lodgepole. Travel eases briefly at 2 miles and turns decisively northwest up a narrow, heavily wooded ridge.
Here the trail begins a moderately steep and rugged climb with few notable features until cresting at 3.8 miles (10,762') and dropping to Chipmunk Lake (4.0 miles : 10,682'), a small pond with views of Ypsilon Mountain and Fairchild Mountain (13,502').
The trail undulates on the valley floor to the cluttered northwest shore of Ypsilon Lake (4.37 miles : 10,664'). Views are quite limited from this point, but you can follow social trails south to clearings along the outlet. A logjam here encumbers circumnavigation, however the outlet spills into a very pretty, more accessible meadow seldom explored by day hikers.
A social trail also leads to the lake's north shore where a lively waterfall powered by the Chiquita Lake and Spectacle Lakes' outlet drops through a steep, narrow chute. An unmaintained trail continues above the falls approximately .75 miles to Spectacle Lakes, which lie in a tightly bound cirque beneath Ypsilon Mountain. Reaching them requires good endurance and basic scrambling skills.
- The Mummy Range's middle and upper reaches generally face south-southeast, making them warmer and drier than comparable elevations in the Park. One result is a higher-than-average treeline, and the presence of lodgepole pine at elevations where spruce and fir would normally dominate.
- On July 15, 1982, the Lawn Lake Dam - a 26' high earthen dam - failed. The dam released 674 acre-feet (219,724,000 gallons) of water at an estimated peak discharge rate of 18,000 cubic feet (134,640 gallons) per second down the Roaring River valley. Three people were killed and damages totaled $31 million. As a result, sections of the Roaring River's high gully walls are unstable today and prone to sudden collapse.
- No horses are allowed beyond the 4.2 mile mark.
- Ypsilon Mountain, Mt Chiquita and Mt Chapin are accessible from the Chapin Pass Trailhead.
Camping and Backpacking Information
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:
- Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Campsite
- The Upper Chipmunk site is located 4.2 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 10,640'. There are two individual sites and a privy. The sites are located northeast of the Ypsilon Lake trail between Chipmunk Lake and Ypsilon Lake in a dense pine forest. Water is available from the outlet of the pond or from Ypsilon Lake. The water is slow moving and a filter would be helpful in addition to your purification measures.
Backcountry Campsites en route to Lawn Lake and Crystal Lakes:
The Ypsilon Creek, Cutbank and Golden Banner sites are located on the west bank of Roaring River. A spur from the Lawn Lake Trail (2.9 miles, +1,092') crosses the river and forks with access to each:
- Cutbank Backcountry Camspite
- The Cutbank site is located 2.6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,620'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from Roaring River.
- The Ypsilon Creek site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,560'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest above the confluence of Ypsilon Creek and Roaring River on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from both sources.
- The Golden Banner site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,600'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River (.3 miles north of the river crossing). Water is available from Roaring River.
- The Lawn Lake site is located 6.2 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 10,987'. There are 4 individual sites and a llama-stock site, each with access to a privy. The sites are located in a spruce-fir forest on the north side of the lake, west of the Patrol Cabin. Water is available from the lake, but ideally taken from the inlet. Lawn Lake was once a man-enlarged lake, but the dam broke in 1982 causing considerable flooding downstream and forming the Alluvial Fan and Fan Lake. The lake now exists at its original level.
Ypsilon Creek Backcountry Campsite
Golden Banner Backcountry Campsite
Lawn Lake Backcountry Campsite
- Only catch and release fishing is permitted along the Roaring River, Lawn Lake, Crystal Lakes and Ypsilon Lake drainages.
Ypsilon Lake is accessed from the Lawn Lake Trailhead in the north-central section of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Lawn Lake Trailhead is located 5.0 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.
Directions: The Lawn Lake Trailhead is located 2 miles north of Highway 36 along Fall River Road.
From the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, continue west on Highway 36 past Bear Lake Road to Deer Ridge Junction (3 miles). Turn Right at Deer Ridge Junction onto highway 34 and drive 1.9 miles to Fall River Road. Turn left onto Fall River Road and the Lawn Lake Trailhead will be immediately on your right-hand side.
Rocky Mountain National Park