Name: Sky Pond Trail
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park, CO
Trailhead: Glacier Gorge
Length: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1833 feet
This was a bucket list hike for me because of the unique formations of the mountains at Sky Pond. I just thought they were so interesting and something different that what you see at most alpine lakes. However, I had put off doing the hike because it doesn’t allow dogs since it’s in the national park. Finally, I tried to set aside the immense amount of guilt I had leaving Marlowe behind and set out bright and early to see what this hike was all about. And it sure did not disappoint! It easily ranks on my list of top ten hikes!
What I loved most about this hike were the “landmarks” along the way. You get a little bit of everything, and this is also great for people that may not want to take on the challenge of the full hike. And if I’m doing an out and back trail, keeping it visually interesting is always key! Shortly into the trail, the first landmark you come across is Alberta Falls, which was still flowing nicely in November this year. A lot of people were taking breaks here and eating snacks on the rocks surrounding the falls.
The next landmark (and possibly one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken) is The Loch. It’s a gorgeous lake with a little inlet jutting out into it. At this point, we were getting higher in elevation and running into more snow. The trail itself was still manageable with just hiking boots as it was a mild winter so far.
Leaving The Loch, the amount of people on the trail started trickling down, which is always a plus for me. The next landmark the way was Timberline Falls. Approaching this was a bit more difficult as it’s where you gain a lot of elevation, and it required micro spikes. The falls themselves were frozen over as well.
From here, you had to do a bit of climbing to get to Lake of Glass. It wasn’t very fun with all the ice and snow, but as long as you trusted your footing and grip, you’d be fine. As we were climbing this, I thought for sure Sky Pond would be just right over the top. However, don’t be fooled. Once you reach Lake of Glass (which is NOT Sky Pond), you still have a little ways to go. It is beyond worth it though.
The photos don’t even do the vastness justice. In fact, I had to stitch together several photos in Photoshop to capture the entire photo at the beginning of the post. It’s huge and will defintely take your breath away! The hike took us about 8-9 hours roundtrip with the ice and snow and stopping a lot for photo ops. It’s also a pretty difficult hike, so getting there early enough to give yourself time to rest and take it easy is key. Also, starting early will help you avoid any afternoon storms. After any hike in RMNP, I always suggest a good meal at Ed’s Cantina to refuel!