Hike to Chasm Lake

Hike to Chasm Lake

The hike to Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a bucket list adventure filled with rocks and views!

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  8.5  miles, round trip
Trailhead:  Longs Peak
Elevation Gain:  2,367’
Trail Type:  Out and Back
Dogs:  Not Allowed
Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult
Permit Required?  Yes – National Park Pass
Considerations:  Snow early or late season; Summer Thunderstorms
Season:  Spring – Fall

Overview

Although Rocky Mountain National Park has numerable incredible hikes, the hike to Chasm Lake is a bucket list adventure.  Why?  Because the journey is through amazing landscapes to a picturesque alpine jewel cradled beneath Longs Peak.

HIKING TO CHASM LAKE

Longs Peak Trailhead

The hike to Chasm Lake begins at the Longs Peak Trailhead.  Because it is a short drive from the park’s main entrance, spaces can and do fill quickly during the summer.  If the lot is full, parking is also available along the road leading up to the parking area.  Areas where parking is not allowed are clearly marked.

Longs Peak Trail in an Enchanting Forest

The Longs Peak Trail starts off ascending gradually through an enchanting forest.  Towering pines and the tranquil sounds of nature immediately embrace and surround hikers.  Although mostly hidden at this point, tantalizing glimpses of the surrounding peaks sometimes appear through the trees.

Longs Peak Trail Panoramas in the Open Subalpine Zone

After ascending through forest, the Longs Peak Trail enters an open subalpine zone littered with scrubby, twisted trees and rock.  This unique and fascinating landscape finally offers up amazing panoramas of the surrounding peaks which have been hidden by the forest.

Chasm Lake Trail, Peacock Pool, and Columbine Falls

Following the climb through the rugged and rocky subalpine zone, hikers depart the Longs Peak Trail on the hike to Chasm Lake, transitioning to the Chasm Lake Trail at the marked junction.  For those in need, there is an outhouse is located here.

For those who like views, the Chasm Lake Trail delivers!  It routes hikers along the edge of a gorge with outstanding views of Peacock Pool and Columbine Falls.  Purple and white columbine adorn the up slope beside this section of moderately graded trail, adding interesting color and softness to the rocky landscape.

Chasm Lake Trail – Meadow, Rock, and Cairns – Oh WOW!

The basin before the final ascent on the hike to Chasm Lake is a charming meadow decorated with scattered rocks, meandering streams, and vivid wildflowers.  Step lightly and follow the other footsteps on the Chasm Lake Trail as it weaves through some delicate areas.  Otherwise, its a nice gravel trail. . . for awhile.

Then, where does the trail go?  Ahead lies a wall of rock.  What awaits?  More adventure!  The final stretch of the hike is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding.

Breathtaking views are all around, but alas, hikers must pay attention.  This section involves some route finding (look for the cairns) and rock scrambling.  The climb up the final stretch of this rugged and rocky terrain is fun for those who love a good rock scramble.

Chasm Lake – The Shimmering Finale

Finally, at last, catch the first glimpse of Chasm Lake—a turquoise alpine bowl cradled beneath Longs Peak.  Much of the lake is accessible, however more rock scrambling is necessary in order to move around the lake to other vantage points.

Hikers who make it here relish in the serenity of this place, and the pure wilderness experience. Reaching this hidden gem is well worth the effort.

Hike to Chasm Lake – Tips

The hike to Chasm Lake is remarkable.  Parking at the trailhead, discussed earlier, however, is not the only consideration.  When to hike, as well what equipment is helpful, are also important considerations for successfully completing this hike.

First, the hike to Chasm Lake is best accomplished in the morning.  Why?  Because summer thunderstorms are common and lightening is a known hazard.  When we hiked here, the afternoon storms coming in were very obvious on the way back down.  An early start for this hike can help to avoid the real possibility of not making it to Chasm Lake because of dangerous weather.

Second, it is also best to wait until summer to hike to Chasm Lake due to possible snowfields in spring and fall.  While snowfields are often not a dealbreaker, at times they can be obstacles in terms of impassibility or safety.  If in doubt, check in with the park’s rangers, or click here for current trail conditions.

Finally, hiking poles and sturdy hiking footwear are highly recommended for this hike.  Why?  Because hiking through the open subalpine zone involves going up and down a LOT of stone steps which are very taxing on the legs.  Hiking poles and sturdy footwear provide support for each step on the ups and downs.  As such, they help with not only stability, but also help absorb the impact of the constant pounding on feet, ankles, and knees.  

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information (Click below to follow links.)

Chasm Lake Slideshow

(Click image to expand.)

Gear We Use for Day Hiking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for day hiking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

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SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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