Trail Snapshot: Sky Pond Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 9+ mile Round Trip
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Duration: Approx 5hr+ Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9240′ at Trailhead
- Elevation Gain: +1647′
- Seasons: May-September
- Dogs: Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Denver Drive Time: 2 hr
- Driving Directions to Glacier Gorge Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Lakes, wildflowers, waterfall, wildlife: elk, deer, birds
- Activities: Hiking, fishing, photography
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Sky Pond Directions & Trailhead Information
The trail up to Sky Pond begins at either the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (see driving directions above), or at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions). Because the Glacier Gorge Trailhead has a much smaller lot, you may need to drive further up to Bear Lake. There you’ll find a short connector trail that will put you on the path down and over to the Glacier Gorge Trail system. In the event that parking 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.
Hike to Sky Pond and Lake of Glass
The first destination that you can’t and don’t want to miss is at .8 miles, Alberta Falls. The trail then climbs toward an eventual trail junction. The way to the Sky Pond is to follow the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale trail that bears right and ascends for about another .5 mile to the next trail junction. At this second junction, the middle of the three trails leads onto the Loch Vale Trail, and up to the Loch, Timberline Falls, and eventually beyond to Sky Pond. Pictured Above: Creek between the Loch and Timberline Falls.
The first lake, Lake of Glass, is only about a quarter-mile beyond Timberline Falls. Many stop here thinking that it’s Sky Pond–but it’s not. From this vantage point, it’s hard to imagine that there is more. However, approximately another quarter-mile will lead to Sky Pond, which is twice the size of Lake of Glass. There is a waterfall hidden just below the Lake of Glass. See our trail profile for this waterfall for details. Pictured below: The Sharks Tooth at Sky Pond.
Sky Pond is surrounded by fields of columbines and other wildflowers. A small shelf waterfall spills out of Sky Pond (pictured below), and a marsh between the two lakes is the home to a beautiful collection of marsh marigolds. From the southwestern shores of Sky Pond, there are incredible views of Petit Grepon, the Sabre, and Sharkstooth–three prominent peaks that surround this high mountain lake.
List and Links of Destinations Along the Loch Vale Trail
Tips & Resources for Trail to Sky Pond & Lake of Glass in RMNP :
- You Might Miss it: Lots of people stop at Lake of Glass and think they have made it to Sky Pond. It’s not much further, but it is hidden because of the elevation difference.
- Get There Early: There are two important reasons to begin your hikes early in the morning in Rocky Mountain National 1)The trail head parking lots fill up early, and 2) in the Summer months, thunderstorms will form in the early afternoon.
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Recommended Map for Rocky Mountain National Park: The trail maps provided by Rocky Mountain National Park are usually sufficient. However, if you plan to hike RMNP often, we recommend purchasing a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Steven Bratman for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike.
- After the Hike: Inkwell Brew Coffee
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions