Round-Trip Length: 6.39 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,186 – 10,289′
Elevation Change: +1,103′
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: Lake Haiyaha is accessed from the Bear Lake Trailhead or Glacier Gorge 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.
This trip report is from a hike Lisa and I took 7 weeks ago in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a beautiful Fall day so we decided to get up into the park for a hike. We picked Lake Haiyaha as our hiking destination. In looking at the map, I realized we could do this hike as a loop, starting at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and ending back at the Bear Lake Trailhead. It’s always nice to be able to do a loop hike giving you the opportunity to see more on your hike.
We headed up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The parking fills up early on weekends so when we arrived, both the Bear Lake Trailhead parking lot and Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking lot were full so we parked in the shuttle parking lot and took the shuttle to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
We arrived at the trailhead and started out around 11:25am on our hike. Here is an overview of our hike as mapped out by my MayMyFitess app.
About a quarter of mile up the trail we came to our first trail sign. We headed off in the direction of Alberta Falls.
Lisa heading up the trail. You can see a little bit of color in the aspens.
In 0.87 miles from the trailhead, we came to our first destination – Alberta Falls. The waterfall is named after Alberta Sprague, the wife of Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area. The 30-foot waterfall thunders down a small gorge on Glacier Creek.
After a brief break at the falls, we continued on up the trail. At 1.7 miles we came to our next trail junction. We continued on up in the direction of Loch Vale.
We soon had great views ahead of Glacier Gorge and the Loch Vale valley.
After another 0.5 miles (total of 2.2 miles from the trailhead), we came to our turn off to Lake Haiyaha.
We continued on up towards Lake Haiyaha. About 20 minutes later we came to a small pond providing some excellent reflection shots (2.64 miles from the trailhead).
Looking ahead with the sun hitting some of the peaks. I thought the sun on the peaks with the dark clouds provided for a great shot.
Another 15 minutes down the trail, we decided to stop for a lunch break. We found some great flat boulders with terrific views looking in the direction of Longs Peak, the only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park. A few golden aspens provided some nice shots.
After our lunch break, we continued up towards Lake Haiyaha. 40 minutes later we were nearing the final approach to the lake (3.34 miles from the trailhead).
A small pond near Lake Haiyaha.
The final few yards were quite rocky as we neared the lake.
We finally arrived at Lake Haiyaha. “Haiyaha” is a Native American word meaning “rock”, or “lake of many rocks”, or “big rocks”. 12,713-foot Hallett Peak can be seen straight ahead.
It was quite cold when we arrived at the lake and it was starting to rain a little. We tried to walk around the lake a little bit but it was very difficult as there really is no shore but just big boulders surrounding the lake. After our attempt, we decided to make our way down the trail in the direction of Dream Lake. A stream crossing near the outlet of the lake.
We had spectacular views looking down on Nymph Lake and Bear Lake from our vantage point high above.
1.2 miles from Lake Haiyaha, we came to the turnoff for Bear Lake.
We headed up to the shore of Dream Lake which is only 0.2 miles off our route to take in the view. The late afternoon soon made for a nice shot of the sun reflecting off of the lake with a silhouette of Hallett Peak.
Lisa taking in the view.
We soon continued on down the trail to Nymph Lake. A shot of the lake with Longs Peak in the background.
Another shot of Longs Peak.
A selfie of Lisa and I at Nymph Lake.
From Nymph Lake we only had another 0.7 miles to go to the Bear Lake Trailhead. We arrived back to the trailhead and caught the shuttle back to our car. Heading out of the park, we drove through Morraine Park to see if we could catch any elk. More than 3,200 elk reside in Rocky Mountain National Park. As the colder months approach, most elk migrate to the lower elevations inside the park to prepare for the annual breeding season. September marks elk breeding season, which is also referred to as the elk rut (“rut” derived from the Latin word meaning “roar”). As huge bull elks prepare to attract female cows, they let out bellows, which range from deep tones to high-pitch squeals to grunts. We only saw one lone male bull elk.
You are warned not to approach the elk but keep a safe distance. Of course there are always people who don’t follow the rules. As we watched this elk peacefully sitting in the meadow, one tourist decided to approach him. He kept getting closer and closer until the bull got up and starting getting ready to charge the guy.
The guy finally backed off and the elk sat back down.
After a stop for dinner in Estes Park, we headed for home.