Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,303.00 ft (701.95 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

One can hardly imagine a more densely packed area of amazing scenery with completely different trails all stemming from the same road as the Bear Lake zone in Rocky Mountain National Park. Not only that, but to have it kept plowed and ready to use all year is nothing short of a gift to everyone who has the chance to visit the park. Sky Pond is one such hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead just short of the end of Bear Lake road. This area is so immensely popular that getting to the trailhead after 7 a.m. on a weekend almost guarantees that you’ll need to take the shuttle because all of the parking will be gone. Thankfully, Rocky Mountain National Park has a very good shuttle service that many people take advantage of daily for this very reason.

The hike itself begins at Glacier Gorge Trailhead and begins meandering south toward the appropriately named Glacier Gorge, a “U-shaped” valley that was carved by giant glaciers millions of years ago. Keep straight and follow signs to The Loch, which is the first of three gorgeous alpine lakes you’ll see throughout the day. Take a nice break here and study the drainage across and to the left of the far side of the lake; that’s where you’re going!

Continue hiking around the right side of the lake. This is where snow starts to linger early season because many hikers turn around at The Loch and don’t pack down the snow beyond here. A long and forested trail weaves through the trees until you reach a clearing below towering cliffs. The hike will enter a talus field and hug the slope up toward the waterfall. The waterfall just below Isle of Glass is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day, and in general it is nice for a short break before tackling the short scramble up the rocky slope to the right.

Once at the Isle of Glass, take as many pictures as you want, but press on around the right side of the lake and onward to your destination of Sky Pond. The dizzying towers above the south side of the lake are something you’ll want to admire for quite a long time before heading back to the car. Go back the way you came after getting your fill of views and dips in the lake.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Amazing scenery. Varied terrain. Very accessible.

Cons

Crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

9,242.00 ft (2,816.96 m)

Highest point

11,083.00 ft (3,378.10 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,841.00 ft (561.14 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Old-growth forest
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Mine

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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