Glass Lake and Sky Pond, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Glass Lake and Sky Pond - 9.0 miles

Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Sky Pond, Glass Lake, and the Sharks Tooth formation

Sky Pond, Glass Lake, and the Sharks Tooth formation

Round-Trip Length: 9.0 miles (4.15 miles to Glass Lake : 4.5 miles to Sky Pond)
Start-End Elevation: 9,210' - 10,808' (Glass Lake) : 10,887' (Sky Pond)
Elevation Change: +1,677' net elevation gain to Sky Pond (10,906' max elevation)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Glass Lake and Sky Pond - 9.0 Miles Round-Trip

Glass Lake and Sky Pond are located 4.15 and 4.5 miles from Glacier Gorge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lakes sit just above Timberline Falls in a deep valley capped by Taylor Glacier, Taylor Peak (13,153'), Powell Peak (13,208') and The Sharkstooth (12,630').

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy a stop at Alberta Falls, The Loch and a challenging scramble up Timberline Falls on the hike to Glass Lake and Sky Pond:

The Loch Vale Trail rises over Glacier Creek through young aspen and mixed pine to Alberta Falls (.85 miles : 9,423'). A moderate climb continues to the North Longs Peak Trail split (1.6 miles : 9,768'), where it banks southwest and levels through a gap between Thatchtop Mountain (12,668') and the Glacier Knobs.

The trail drops to Glacier Junction (2.1 miles : 9,804'), a point marking the convergence of two glacial valleys with access to some of Rocky Mountain's most renowned destinations.

Follow signs to The Loch. Travel eases over Icy Brook, then steepens away on switchbacks in a thick forest (2.5 miles : 9,985'). The valley opens upon reaching The Loch (2.95 miles : 10,192'), where the main trail veers right up its north shore.

The trail hugs the shore before re-entering a dark, stream-crossed forest on the Loch's west side (3.3 miles : 10,215'). Fishing is notably good on slow moving sections of the inlet.

Travel moderates to a pair of footbridges spanning Andrews Creek at the Sky Pond Trail - Andrews Glacier Trail split (3.65 miles : 10,379').

It steepens considerably in a thinning forest to the base of Timberline Falls (4.0 miles : 10,642'), a misty cascade that drops sharply from the edge of Glass Lake.

Here you'll begin a short but demanding climb up the north side of the falls. Though not technical, only confident hikers should attempt this.

The trail is not marked but the path is quite intuitive (there's essentially only one way to go). Heavy run-off or lingering snow can make the climb treacherous - exercise caution. Groups should allow space between individuals.

The trail abruptly crests atop the falls and levels in open alpine to Glass Lake (4.15 miles : 10,808'). Glass Lake features an emerald green hue and large, populous trout. Views back down valley are exceptional from the lake's north shore.

The trail - rugged and indistinguishable at times - continues up the west side of Glass Lake through krummholz and talus to Sky Pond (4.5 miles : 10,887').

The space between the lakes is dotted with ponds, meadows and cascading streams, and worth exploring if time permits.

Sky Pond, which is actually quite larger than Glass Lake, fills a rocky bowl encased by Taylor Glacier, Taylor Peak, the Sharkstooth and the Gash. Sky Pond's outlet can be safely crossed to find some of the best views over the two lakes.

Illustration of bighorn sheep

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 18.621 W105 38.424 — 0.0 miles : Glacier Gorge Trailhead
  • N40 18.237 W105 38.289 — .85 miles : Alberta Falls
  • N40 17.982 W105 38.391 — 1.6 miles : North Longs Peak Trail junction
  • N40 17.842 W105 38.757 — 2.1 miles : Glacier Gorge Junction
  • N40 17.664 W105 39.049 — 2.5 miles : Begin final switchbacks to reach The Loc
  • N40 17.639 W105 39.270 — 2.95 miles : The Loch
  • N40 17.482 W105 39.546 — 3.25 miles : End of Loch, enter thick forest
  • N40 17.278 W105 39.856 — 3.65 miles : Andrews Glacier Trail junction
  • N40 17.002 W105 39.925 — 4.0 miles : Begin steep climb up Timberline Falls
  • N40 16.950 W105 39.903 — 4.15 miles : Glass Lake
  • N40 16.730 W105 40.069 — 4.5 miles : Sky Pond

Worth Noting

  • The scramble up and down Timberline Falls can be hazardous, especially with lingering snow or moisture. Always begin your descent before storms develop. Consult the Park for trail conditions in advance.

  • Fishing is notably good at the Loch, at the Loch's inlet along Icy Brook, and at Glass Lake.

  • The Sharkstooth - part of the valley wall encasing both lakes - is named so for the multiple needle-like rock spires that resemble a row of shark's teeth.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is the only official backcountry site between the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Sky Pond. It's located along Andrews Creek, approximately .9 miles beyond The Loch.

Andrews Creek Campground

  • Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is the only official backcountry site between the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Sky Pond. It's located along Andrews Creek, approximately .9 miles beyond The Loch.

  • There is only one designated site and one privy at the Andrews Creek Campsite. A maximum of two 4-person tents are allowed.

  • The site is located at 10,560' in a spruce-fir stand adjacent to avalanche debris on the east side of Andrews Creek, about 0.2 miles from the Sky Pond - Andrews Glacier junction (3.8 miles from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead).

  • Near the site is a large area of trees downed by an avalanche in the winter of 1985-86. A wood sign indicates the path to the site from the Andrews Glacier Trail; the path is faint but supported by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tent(s) as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees.

Rules and Regulations

  • A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
  • Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Horses and stock are not permitted beyond Glacier Junction.

Directions to Trailhead

The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located 8.4 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on Bear Lake Road.

Just beyond the Beaver Meadows entrance station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located on the left side of the road and has limited parking. Additional parking and alternative access can be found at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This will add an additional 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.

Contact Information

Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397

Visitor Information:
970.586.1206

Backcountry Office:
970.586.1242

Campground Reservations:
800.365.2267

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"I hiked this 3 days after a ~8-10" snow in the mountains. First, GORGEOUS hike. The forecast was for 18degrees at elevation with 39mph sustained winds and 60mph gusts (!). I nervously left the car around 4:30am, and reached Sky Pond by 7am (with a few photo stops). Lake of Glass at the top of Timberline Falls did certainly have wind like this - I was blown down several times and was glad I took ski goggles, but after only 3-4 minutes heading towards Sky Pond the the trail was in a semi-protected zone and the wind was very manageable. Microspikes were definitely necessary, with icy spots on the trail immediately from the trailhead. Awesome day in the mountains!"
Jordan Chapell  -  Broomfield, CO  -  Date Posted: November 21, 2016
"My daughter and I hiked this trail yesterday with snow shoes and microspikes. Snow shoes were probaby not necessary. Trail was well packed past the Loch. The climb past timberline falls was steep but manageable with the right gear. Micro spikes and poles and VERY warm gear was a must. It was extremely windy at the top. We had trouble keeping our balance."
Heidi  -  denver, co  -  Date Posted: March 7, 2016
"Hiked this trail at the end of December with my boyfriend. While we're experienced hikers, we're relatively new to winter hiking. However, we came fully geared up and were glad that we did. The winds were whipping over some of the trail, the Loch and intensely at Sky Pond. Because of the high winds, the trail was very difficult to find, but following the stream bed got us there. Snow shoes past the Loch are a must in the winter. The snow up the mountain to Sky Pond was extremely deep; when we abandoned our snow shoes for the climb past Timberline, my boyfriend slipped and ended up in snow, vertical to his collarbones. I had microspikes and we both had ice axes and were glad that we did, though we saw others who relied on just boots and trekking poles. The wind at the top was pretty extreme, but the view was totally worth it. In fact, the views from the Loch all the way to Sky were stunning. With chatting with people we passed and losing the trail several times, it took us 6 hours from the Glacier Gorge parking lot. We can't wait to come back and do it in the summer, I'm sure the experience would be completely different."
Melissa K  -  Baltimore, MD  -  Date Posted: December 30, 2015
"Myself and 2 buddies actually hiked to Glass Lake in 1979. I still have great memories of coming to the "unimproved" part of the trail past the Loch, navigating an existing snowfield, and then climbing beside the Falls in a driving rain storm. The rain ended as we came to the Lake. We spent some time there and then headed back to our car, tired but blessed for the hike. "
Cecil  -  Cocoa, FL  -  Date Posted: August 21, 2015
"My girlfriend and I hiked this one. So far, it's my favorite hike ever! We're advanced beginners as far as hiking goes. This trail is long enough that we were both thoroughly worn out getting back... and to be honest, thankful we made it back. It had been unseasonably cold the previous night with a couple of inches of snow falling. We arrived at the Bear Lake trailhead in the late morning - maybe 11 or so. Got geared up and set out. I'm a photographer, so we stopped at several locations along the way... the very dense fog and fresh snow made for some very cool photos.. and we could tell that it would blow off, which it eventually did. We made it to Timberline falls mid-afternoon-ish... there was some ice along the trail making for some slippery situations. We scrambled up the falls, had a snack and were content that we'd "made it". The way back down was a mad dash at times as we got off to a late start (being chased by shadows and cold winds) and because my knee gave out a little... so we had some slow stretches in there. We saw the rescue helicopter fly over us... for a second I thought they were looking for us... but then I came to my senses! HA! Unfortunately, we heard at the bottom that a group of guys we ran into on the trail earlier slipped on a footbridge near Andrew's Glacier and one of them needed medevac due to a blown knee. Long story short... we made it back to the trailhead in enough time to catch the VERY LAST bus down to our car... only to discover that we hadn't "made it"... we thought we were at sky pond... but we were only at Glass Lake. I guess now we have a reason to re-do this hike! "
Joe  -  Minneapolis, MN  -  Date Posted: November 20, 2014
"Just as described - easily one of my favorite hikes in RMNP. The entire hike up was filled with wildflowers of all colors, chirping birds and flowing water. The final scramble up was a little slippery, but well worth it. Take it slow and enjoy these views: http://imgur.com/3BZurPs"
Andy  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: August 6, 2013
"Ended up hiking this one today. BEAUTIFUL. Temperatures in the mid 20s and partly cloudy all day. Hike took about 4h45m including break for lunch. A fair amount of traffic between the trailhead and the Loch so the trails had a pretty dense snow pack making snowshoes unnecessary. Between the Loch and Sky Pond, however, I only saw two other hikers and snow shoes were very helpful in this section. Getting over Timberline Falls, although very brief, was a bit sketchy what with a mix of rock, ice and snow on pretty steep terrain. If you're going to do this in winter, definitely take off the the snow shoes for precise footing when ascending or descending Timberline Falls and put on some short spikes for traction. And move very slowly and cautiously. Gorgeous hike, though if you get the chance!"
 -   -  Date Posted: January 6, 2013
"I always recommend calling the Park and asking a ranger. This is a popular trail, and bet they'll have good, recent information. My guess is that Timberline Falls is not safe to climb right now without technical equipment. Even if not accessible, the Loch is a great winter destination, and the forest just west of it is fun to explore."
 -   -  Date Posted: January 6, 2013
"Have been meaning to hike this one all year, but haven't gotten around to it. Is this one feasible with spikes and/or snowshoes in, let's say January, ie. right now?"
 -   -  Date Posted: January 5, 2013
"Bill from Firestone described it perfectly. Great hike, awesome views, and a little scrambling to receive your reward at Lake of the Glass and Sky Pond. Do it in Mid Summer to early Fall. Probably not an area you'd want to be in after the first snow."
 -   -  Date Posted: September 10, 2012
"This is an absolutely spectacular hike - one of the best in RMNP. Once you pass the Alberta Falls crowds drop off precipitously (this is a good thing), and after the Loch even more so. At ~1700 ft vertical it's not a strenuous hike, but beware; the final climb up the rock wall to Glass Lake is a bit too daring for some hikers. Even if you only get that far the view of Timberline Falls makes it worth the hike. If you get past the wall and up to Glass Lake/Sky Pond you'll be rewarded with as beautiful a destination as the park has to offer."
Bill  -  Firestone, Colorado  -  Date Posted: July 21, 2012

 

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