With just under 800 feet of elevation gain in 4 miles, this trail represents a moderately difficult climb, but it yields unparalleled views of Chaos Canyon dominated by the rugged 12,484-foot Otis Peak and the towering 12,713-foot Hallet Peak at its end. Twisted old bristlecone and lodgepole pines speckle the hillsides amid massive granite boulders; it's purported that some of the oldest trees in the park dwell in this canyon.
Depending on the translation, "Haiyaha" is a Ute Native American word signifying "rock" or "big rock." The shoreline of this primitive subalpine lake is a challenge to negotiate, especially in inclement weather, but the views of the Continental Divide (marked by Otis and Hallet peaks) are uncontested and afford a privileged perspective on the glacial action that carved the canyon, depositing the behemoth boulders along the way.
Access to the trailhead is negotiated via Bear Lake Trailhead, which is known to experience heavy traffic in the height of tourist season. A free shuttle serves this trailhead, and it is advisable to utilize it as the parking lot fills by 7:30 a.m.
The hike up to Lake Haiyaha shares a trail with that of Nymph, Dream, + Emerald Lakes, only splitting to the left a mere 100 yards from Dream Lake.
Note: It is extremely important not to feed, approach, or disturb wildlife within the park. In particular, ground squirrels and chipmunks are common around Dream and Emerald Lakes and Lake Haiyaha, and despite their curiosity and the actions of other tourists, they should be left to enjoy their natural diet and feeding behavior.