Sky Pond from Glacier Gorge Trailhead
Rocky Mountain National Park
Date Hiked: July 11, 2009
Distance: 10 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,710ft
Starting Elevation: 9,240ft
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Rocky Mountain National Park Website & Map (NPS)
Directions: This hike starts from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Parking Area off of Bear Lake Road. If the lot is full (which it probably will be) you can park at the Bear Lake Parking Area and walk a .5 mi trail to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. The alternative is to park at the park and ride and take the free shuttle to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. When you enter the park from Estes Park (Fee Required), make a right onto Bear Lake Road and take it to the park and ride or all the way to the end for Bear Lake. The road is paved and beautiful.
The hike to Sky Pond is remarkable. The Glacier Gorge area is the heart of Rocky Mt. NP and once you get past Alberta Falls 1/4 mile in, there are no crowds and you'll have a nice wilderness experience. The hike takes you past a number of iconic Rocky Mountain NP destinations and deposits you at a beautiful alpine lake at the foot of the incredible Le Petit Grepon, claw-like rock towers. First follow the trail to Alberta Falls, this is an easy hike and therefore popular for summer time crowds. After the falls the crowds thin out as you head up the gorge to the Loch, a beautiful alpine lake.
Just after the Loch, the trail will split. To the right is the trail to Andrews Glacier, but you want to stay straight towards Lake of Glass. As you climb and gain altitude you'll come to the beautiful Timberline Falls. Here the trail climbs up the face of the falls, which in the early season gets wet and slippery so watch your step. Once on top of the falls the trail ascends to Lake of Glass, spectacular Rocky Mountain lake. You'll be tempted to stop here but by all means keep going, just a little bit further to Sky Pond. When you reach Sky Pond, relax, take in towering views of Taylor Peak, Powell Peak, and Le Petit Grepon, not to mention the views back down the Gorge. This spot is pure heaven, eventually you'll need to head back down as the inevitable thunder storms roll in (in the summer).
Head back the way you came and relish in knowing that you reached a lake that maybe 1% of the visitors to the park will ever see.