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Hike Sky Pond










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The hike up to Sky Pond is a little like walking through Disneyland -- each turn keeps you constantly entertained with beautiful scenery, a well crafted trail, and crystal clear alpine lakes. There was even a well placed herd of elk when I last visited! The downside is that this trail is POPULAR. The first stretch to Alberta Falls sees a constant stream of people, which only begins to diminish after you pass The Loch. Despite the throngs of people, this hike remains one of my top 10 favorite hikes. I consider it a must-do, but get an early start to avoid the crowds.

Hike Sky Pond Map Hike Sky Pond Elevation Profile

Begin the hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, which is located near the end of Bear Lake Road. There is minimal parking at this trailhead, so consider using the park's free shuttle bus if you are visiting during the peak summer months or on a weekend. A Park & Ride is located across from Glacier Basin Campground a little ways down the road. Park your car there and ride without worry to the second shuttle stop -- Glacier Gorge.

Begin by dropping down and quickly crossing Tyndall Creek after just 1000 feet, then hang a right followed by an immediate left at Glacier Basin Junction. The trail is well signed, so make sure you're on track for Alberta Falls. Beautiful stands of quaking aspen lead you to a prominent overlook followed by a set of easy switchbacks up to Alberta Falls.

Glacier Basin Junction Alberta Falls

Alberta Falls is one of the park's most popular day hikes. Enjoy the views, and then press on and watch the crowds diminish. Wrap your way around the base of East Glacier Knob, passing the North Longs Peak junction, until you arrive at the Mills Junction. Follow the signs straight ahead for "The Loch," or take a short spur on the left for a look at the stunning cascades of Glacier Falls.

Continue through a narrow valley where the waters of Icy Creek rush over huge boulders. Ease up on your pace as the trail steepens and briefly switchbacks through this section. Then, quite suddenly, The Loch materializes in front of you. If you are feeling tired, this is a great turn-around spot. There is a large rock on the left-hand side as you approach the water that is a great place to take a rest, or many other spots found along the perimeter of the lake that offer more solitude.

Approaching The Loch The Loch Junction

Skirt the lake on its northwestern flank and keep following Icy Brook through a flat valley. Stretches of the creek in this section are so scenic that they cannot be described.

Hiking Around The Loch

Looking ahead, you'll see Timberline Falls looming above you. As you exit the treeline, the trail begins to gain elevation very quickly. Over the next 0.15 miles you'll climb over 200 feet. Take things slowly as you approach the falls, and enjoy the scenery opening up below you. Depending on the snowpack and time of year you're visiting, Timberline Falls may actually be running down a portion of the trail. The route climbs up the low-angle chute to your right. This is the most challenging section of the hike, as it requires the use of your hands to ascend. While this section is entirely 3rd class a fall could cause some serious injury. Evaluate how you are feeling before attempting this scramble; Timberline Falls is another great turn-around point if you are uncertain.

Scrambling up Timberline Falls Overlooking The Loch

Move slowly and carefully as you ascend the chute. The challenges are short-lived and the angle quickly eases off, providing beautiful views across the Lake of Glass.

Lake of Glass

Continue along the northwest flank of the Lake of Glass towards Sky Pond. The final section is only a quarter-mile long, and it doesn't get much better than this. Weave your way through meadows covered in alpine flowers, edge along the cliffs overlooking the lake, and hopscotch across rocks to the edge of Sky Pond.

Sky Pond sits in a beautiful cirque of peaks, famous for both their climbing and their prominence. The Sharkstooth stands to the northwest. Look for rock climbers on the stunning Petit Grepon route found among these fingers of rock. Taylor and Power Peak form the opposite walls of the cirque, with the Taylor Glacier nestled high among their slopes. Thatchtop guards the entrance to the east, separating Sky Pond from Glacier Gorge.

Sky Pond

Sky Pond is best appreciated over a long period of time. Explore the edges of the lake until you find the perfect spot to sit and relax. Watch the clouds billow over the mountain peaks, jump into the ice cold lake for a refreshing swim, and then warm your body against the hot rocks. This is the life!

Return by retracing your steps, or take the slightly longer loop past Lake Haiyaha and Dream Lake to the Bear Lake shuttle stop.


  • 0.3 : Glacier Gorge Junction
  • 0.8 : Alberta Falls
  • 1.6 : North Longs Peak Junction
  • 2.1 : Mills Junction
  • 2.8 : The Loch
  • 3.6 : Andrews Glacier Junction
  • 4.1 : Timberline Falls
  • 4.5 : Sky Pond

    Permits & Fees

  • $20 : Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance Fee


  • June - September
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