The Chasm Lake Trail is a high alpine gem of a hike within Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake shadows the base of the Diamond face of Longs Peak, which towers 2,456 feet above Chasm Lake. This elevation is all the more impressive considering the lake already sits at 11,803 feet.
To access Chasm Lake, start from the Longs Peak Trailhead off of Highway 7. Parking is limited and tends to fill up very early in the morning, so arrive early. There is parking along the access road, but that is limited as well. The reason is that this trailhead is the genesis of several day hikes, including the highly sought after Longs Peak summit. There are restroom facilities at the start of the trail.
From the trailhead it's a 5-mile ascent through a thick conifer forest to the lake. The lower section of the trail is wide and well maintained, which allows for a relatively quick progression through this section. The trail switchbacks along several cascading streams and crosses some fun log bridges as it ascends. This first section of the trail is approximately 2.2 miles before emerging into the high tundra at 10,750 feet.
The second section of the trail wanders through the high tundra with colorful shrubs and expansive scenery of the Rocky Mountains. The trail becomes slightly more challenging and requires careful footsteps over constant small boulders. Visitors will get their first inspiring glimpse of Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, and Storm Peak at this point. To the east stands Twin Sisters and the town of Estes Park in the valley below. This section of the trail will continue to ascend up and over to the juncture of East Longs Peak Trail. This is the route to the Boulders and the Key Hole routes toward the summit of Longs Peak. It should be mentioned that the route to the summit is long and exhausting, and it shouldn't be taken without preparation. For Chasm Lake, continue to hike southwest along the Chasm Lake Trail.
The third section of the trail follows along the hillside above Peacock Pool and Columbine Falls. Continue trekking along the hillside ledge above Peacock Pool. The last eighth of a mile to Chasm Lake does require moderate route finding, and the trail quickly gains 400 feet of elevation via a large rock slab. This requires some scrambling and hand holds, but it can easily be figured out with a little creativity. Once this scramble has been completed, Chasm Lake sits in front of you in a grand cirque below the towering Longs Peak, Mount Lady Washington, and Mount Meeker. Chasm Lake is a truly amazing hiking destination that proves the immensity of what the Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.