Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,758.00 ft (535.84 m)
Trail type
10.00 mi (16.09 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.

If you haven't heard of the infamous Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park you are missing out on one of the most spectacular winter hikes in the state. Located in the heart of Rocky this hike is packed year-round, with hikers in the summer and snowshoers in the winter. Totaling just under ten miles, this hike is a somewhat difficult day hike for someone who is not the most experienced hiker, and a rather simple hike for someone who considers themself an advanced hiker. If you are planning to tackle this winter trek there are a couple of things you need to be sure you have before you start your journey, one of the most important pieces of gear is your footwear, because you are doing this hike in the winter you need to make sure that you have a hiking boot that is waterproof so that your feet do not get wet from the snow you will be walking in. Next, it would be smart to invest in a pair of microspikes which will help you with traction as you will be walking on packed snow and ice. After that be sure you have a jacket to keep you warm (preferably down), some hand/feet warmers, and plenty of water as many of the streams and creeks will be frozen as winter is on the way. 

Getting to the parking lot is very easy, stay on Bear Lake road and get off at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead lot, because this is a popular hike the lot might fill up quickly so it will be in your best interest to start early. If you would rather wait and start this hike after the sun comes out and it starts to heat up, there is more parking at the Bear Lake lot and it will only add about a tenth of a mile to your trip. Once you are parked and ready to go, double check that you have all of your gear, water, and food then you are ready to go. 

Finally, after you start the hike you will notice that for the most part, this is a very gradual hike that does not have any major elevation gain all at one time. This is a very enjoyable trail that will challenge your stamina as it is rather long. After about your first mile and a half into the trial, you will come to your first intersection where you want to stay to the right on the Glacier Gorge trail. Then about a half mile later you will come to your next intersection where you will want to stay straight this time, now heading towards The Loch Vale. 

The Loch is a beautiful lake that should be frozen over depending on how early you go in the winter there is a chance that you can catch it as there is still flowing water. But this lake is also extremely windy on most days so try not to stay for too long and avoid that windburn. Once you have gotten enough of that wind and are ready to keep going you will continue for another two miles till you reach some steeper incline where you will begin the climb to timberline falls. Since the falls are so high up there is a very high likelihood that they will be frozen over. 

Now that you are at Timberline Falls, this is the perfect place to take a break and take in the surrounding peaks. The falls have an amazing viewpoint of The Loch and the valley which you just hiked through. There are multiple spots for you to stop and refuel for a quick bite to eat and some water. If you are not in the mood for a break then Lake of Glass is only a few hundred feet further and has a much better view of the mountains.

At Lake of Glass, you have amazing views of the frozen-over lake and 13,000-foot Taylor Peak in the background, making the perfect spot for some pictures. While this is not Sky Pond the view from here is almost identical to that of Sky Pond, so if you are starting to get cold or tired you will not miss out on too much if you have to turn back now. After you have spent more than enough time basking in the beauty of this lake now is time for the final ascent to Sky Pond. 

This last section of the trail starts to get a little tricky depending on the weather. If you can go after there has not been snow in a while then there is a good likelihood that the route should still be visible. On the other hand, if there is not much of a route, try following the footprints of other hikers and the trail that they have made. Depending on the time of year there is a good chance that the lake is frozen over enough and you can walk on it, with that being said if you choose to do this be as cautious as you can because falling in the lake greatly increases your chances of hypothermia. So, after taking your time to find a safe route to Sky Pond, pat yourself on the back as the beauty of this place is unmatched. 

Sadly all good things must come to an end, so after you have got some food and water, then snap a couple of photos to make sure you are ready for the last of your descent down the mountain and back to your car. As you begin to start your way back to the trailhead be careful going down so you do not fall and hurt yourself. Also, be sure to watch your step if you come across frozen patches of ice that have formed because these are very easy to slip on. Nevertheless, once you make it back to your car be sure to get into some more comfortable clothing and reward yourself with a nice relaxing evening. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Alpine Lake.



Trailhead Elevation

9,847.00 ft (3,001.37 m)

Highest point

10,983.00 ft (3,347.62 m)


Near lake or river
Vault toilet
Family friendly
Big Game Watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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