Trail Snapshot: Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 4.2 miles Round Trip
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Duration: Approx 2-3hrs Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9475′
- Elevation Gain: approx +700′
- Seasons: Spring through Fall
- Dogs: Dogs Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map
- Denver Drive Time: 2 hr
- Driving Directions to Bear Lake Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Sub-alpine lakes, mountain views, wildlife: Abert’s Squirrel, Elk, Bear
- Activities: Picnicking, Hiking Trails, Photography
- Conditions at Bear Lake Trailhead: Click Here
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for Chaos Canyon Cascades
The trail to Chaos Canyon Cascades begins at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions). In the event the parking lot at Bear Lake is full, you’ll then need to park at the Park & Ride near the Bierstadt Trailhead and take the bus into the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link. The trail is located on your way to Bear Lake, off to the left, just before reaching the shore viewing area of Bear Lake. It follows the same main trail that leads hikers up to both Nymph and Dream Lakes.
The Hike to Chaos Canyon Cascades
The trail will descend and follow Chaos Creek, but will soon enter a steep area where the brush is dense and the trail is difficult to discern. Exercise caution in this area The cascades should come into view after just a few short minutes, as they are only about 1/10th of a mile from the footbridge. Because this is an unmaintained trail, be sure to tread lightly. Take care not to disturb the flowers and undergrowth, and the pristine environment of the cascades.
Hikers can add another Lake to this hike by returning to the main trail via the same route to the cascades, then continuing south to the Lake Haiyaha trail junction. A short spur trail to Haiyaha (on the right) leads to another great high mountain lake in RMNP. Adding Haiyaha to the hike would make this an approximately 4.6 mile round-trip hike.
Tips & Resources for Hiking to Chaos Canyon Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Explore More: Make this a loop hike and see 4 Lakes and another great Waterfall
- Trail Map for Rocky Mountain National Park: Trail Map Link
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Trekking Poles: For most hikes in RMNP–especially if you are traveling on unmaintained trails–we recommend using Trekking Poles. They take a lot of weight off the knees and help in navigating uneven terrain.
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to photographer Aaron Cooper for this the photo of Chaos Canyon Cascades. Be sure to check out his extensive gallery of Colorado landscape photography.
- After the Hike: Poppy’s Pizza in Estes Park, CO
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions