|Trail Features:||Alpine Lake, Outstanding Views|
|Trail Location:||Bear Lake|
|Roundtrip Length:||3.9 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||9475 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||865 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||444 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||10,240 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||5.63 (moderate)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||40.31196|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-105.64581|
The hike to Lake Haiyaha begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. Due to the extreme popularity of the area you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to reach the trailhead during peak tourist season. Instead of doing an out-and-back hike, as described below, hikers will also have the option of making this into a loop hike. This one-way loop visits all the lakes mentioned below, but continues to Glacier Gorge and includes a visit to Alberta Falls. You can find more information on this option by clicking here.
Just beyond the trailhead the Bear Lake Loop splits off to the right, while the trail to Lake Haiyaha branches off to the left. Most hikers will stop at Bear Lake to check out the beautiful scenes from the east shore before proceeding to their ultimate destination. If starting in the early morning you might have an opportunity to go home with some great photos of Hallett Peak reflecting off the water. If wishing to avoid the crowds that flock to this extremely popular area, I highly recommend starting in the early morning anyway.
From Bear Lake the trail makes a steady climb up to Nymph Lake. Every now and then you'll catch a glimpse of Longs Peak through the trees. Due to the heavy amount of foot traffic this area receives, much of this section of trail has been paved.
At just over a half-mile from the trailhead hikers will reach the south end of Nymph Lake, a pleasant lake ringed by pond lilies. If you continue up the trail for a short distance you'll have a nice view of Hallett Peak standing sentinel over the lake.
As you proceed around the lake you'll encounter a fairly steep climb for a short section that includes an outstanding view of Longs Peak off to your left. Continuing higher will provide spectacular views of Hallett Peak as well. This section of trail, between Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, also offers an abundance of wildflowers during the summer.
At roughly 1.1 miles from the trailhead hikers will arrive at the junction for the trail that leads to Lake Haiyaha. A turn to the right here will take you to Dream Lake, located roughly 100 yards from the junction, and well worth the short side trip. To continue towards Lake Haiyaha hikers should turn left here.
From the split the trail begins a fairly steep climb through a dense pine forest. At roughly 1.3 miles you'll reach an opening in the canopy that offers commanding views of the Glacier Basin area, including views of Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and even Bierstadt Lake in the far off distance. From this point the trail begins to level out.
From the junction travel will be quite easy as you approach the lake. However, the last 50 yards to the shore becomes quite rugged. Hikers will have to negotiate through some large boulders, nothing too difficult, but something you'll have to take your time to get through. As you pass through this section be sure to check out the old twisted pines growing among the boulders. Some of the oldest trees in the park are said to be located around this lake.
At just under two miles from the trailhead hikers will finally arrive at the shore of Lake Haiyaha.
As you will have already discovered by this point, the shoreline is quite rugged, with large boulders surrounding the entire lake - the result of it lying in the heart of Chaos Canyon. The scene at Lake Haiyaha is simply stunning. Dominating the view, looking almost straight across the lake, is 12,486-foot Otis Peak on your left, and 12,713-foot Hallett Peak towards the right. In between the two mountains is the appropriately named Chaos Canyon. On your far left you can even see The Sharkstooth.
"Haiyaha" is a Native American word that means "rock" or "lake of many rocks", or "big rocks", depending on the translation.