Sky Pond and Lake of Glass
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The Sky Pond and Lake of Glass hike is a favorite hike for locals. Get a beautiful glimpse of Rocky Mountain National Park on this fun, yet challenging hike that takes you by stunning lakes and to a waterfall and two beautiful hidden lakes! We think it's one of the best hikes in the USA.
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Route Description for Sky Pond and Lake of Glass
The hike up to Sky Pond is popular for a reason. It’s stunning. This hike goes past The Loch, Lake of Glass and Sky Pond, on the way passing the beautiful Timberline Falls. Get there early if you don’t want to hike with crowds.
From the Glacier Gorge trailhead, head southwest. You’ll walk for about a 0.4 km before getting to the first intersection. Stay on the main trail, staying to the right and then make a left at the next intersection that shortly follows, following the signs for Alberta Falls. The trail gradually climbs until Alberta falls, which you’ll reach after 1.2 km.
After hiking 2.4 km, you’ll reach the Mills Lake intersection. Stay right, still following signs for the Loch. You’ll come around the corner and the trail opens up into a clearing where you’ll see Notch Top straight ahead, on the left side of the trail.
After a short descent back into the woods, you’ll see a three-trail split. Follow the trail that is in the middle, signs will read to the Loch and Sky Pond.
You’ll reach The Loch 4.5 km into your hike. This large lake offers reflective views of the surrounding peaks as you follow the trail through the surrounding woods as it skirts to the right of the lake.
Once you exit the woods, the trail gets significantly more difficult and steep. Follow the rock steps as they climb closer to Timberline Falls. After you reach the falls, you can follow the stone step way to the left over the water to get a good view right in front of the falls.
To follow the trail up to Sky Pond, stay to the right and you’ll see the signs pointing up for Sky Pond. The waterfall climb is relatively easy for experienced scramblers, but may be terrifying if this is your first time. Take care and assess if you’re comfortable doing this, and don’t be afraid to turn back. It’s always harder going down then up! This can also be challenging if it is wet or icy.
If you continue up, carefully place your feet on the ledges and use the plenty of hand holds available. Just three moves will get you to the top. Follow the worn trail for a short climb and you’ll see Lake of Glass come into view.
After the Lake of Glass, look for the cairns on the rocks to the right of the lake. After the boulders, the trail is easy to find and see following the stream. It is just a little over a 0.4 km and you’ll reach Sky Pond nestled in the base of the cliffs. There’s usually snow in the grooves of the cliffs to create a beautiful view. On a calm weather day, you can see reflections of the sky in the lake’s water. This is a wonderful place to take a break. If you started at dawn, then you can enjoy some serenity before the mass of day hikers start to arrive to this wonderful place.
To get back to the trailhead, retrace the path you came on, back to your car.
Insider Hints for Sky Pond and Lake of Glass
- If you’re uncomfortable climbing the waterfall, the hike to the base of the falls is still worth it for views looking back, out into the valley.
- Start early, as this hike can get very busy.
- This hike deserves a celebration! Stop at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ for some great BBQ.
Getting to the Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trailhead
From Estes Park, take highway 36 west and enter RMNP at the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Just after the pay station, turn left on Bear Lake Road. Follow the road for 13.7 km to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. This is a heavily used area and it’s often easier to park at the shuttle lot (6.4 km before the trail head) and take the bus to the trailhead.
Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Elevation Graph
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Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Reviews
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