Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park - Day Hikes Near Denver

March 31, 2016 Comments (2) 9+ Miles, Creek or Brooks, Difficult, hikes near estes park, Lake Hikes, Lakes, More than 90 Min, Mountain Range Views, Rocky Mountain National Park, Wildflowers

Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

Situated above Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park are two spectacular lakes. The highest of the two is Sky Pond, and the lower is called The Lake of Glass. This demanding hike begins at the Glacier Gorge trailhead and takes you past at least three waterfalls and a beautiful set of cascades. Rewards await those who hike all the way up to Sky Pond. Explore our Sky Pond trail profile below for trail details, driving directions, maps, and more.


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.

creek below timberline falls

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.

At Timberline Falls, the trail up to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond is a steep scramble to the right-side of the waterfall. Be aware, the rock may be slick and this area is very steep. Hikers should have good footwear, and may need to be patient for those who are descending this section of the trail. In most of this segment, there is only room for one hiker at a time to safely negotiate the scramble. Many hikers will find the descent of this short portion of the trail more difficult than the way up.




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.

sharks tooth and 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.

cascade between sky and lake of glass

List and Links of Destinations Along the Loch Vale Trail

1. Alberta Falls – @ .8
2. The Loch – @ 2.7 miles
3. Timberline Falls – @ 4 miles
4. Lake of Glass & Waterfall -@ 4.2 miles
5. Sky Pond – @ 4.6 miles

sky pond in rocky mountain national park header

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


Weather

Estes Park, CO
34°
partly cloudy
50% humidity
wind: 4mph E
H 38 • L 21
26°
Thu
34°
Fri
41°
Sat

Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions



2 Responses to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. Liz says:

    This hike was so much fun and gorgeous! Thank you for this information. I just wanted to say that we got there at 8:15 and all parking lots (Glacier gorge trail head, Bear lake, and Bierstadt) were full. The ranger we spoke to said these lots fill by 6:30am and so we had to go down to the park & ride (when you first enter). Just a tip to future hikers: early means dawn.

  2. Ben says:

    She said yes 😊

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