I decided to start a blog about my travels and adventures that I've had while taking pictures for my photography business and for fun of course. I hope that you will be inspired to go visit these places for yourself and experience their beauty. As a nature photographer, I spend a lot of time travelling and hiking to beautiful locations to take my pictures. Most of them are in Colorado, but I get out of the state or country every now and then. I hope you will read my posts and find a time to go to some of these beautiful places. I'll post new adventures as I do them, but I also want to put up some of my favorites from previous trips. These should give you some good ideas of places to go have fun.
If you like my photographs, you can see some of my best on my website at http://www.christopherwalshphotography.com
Well, I thought I would start out my blog with a hike that I did on Tuesday August 18th. I went on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to a place called Lake Haiyaha. I often go to RMNP when I don't have a lot of time and want to go on short hikes to beautiful places. I love to go there because it's only an hour and a half from downtown Denver, but it has some of the most beautiful mountains in the state. There are also a ton of Elk there if you want to see these majestic animals. The gate admission is $20, but I buy a National parks season pass every year that is good for all of the national parks and monuments in America. It's a steal at $80. One good trip will pay for it and the money goes for a good cause. If your a senior, I think it's only $20 for a lifetime pass. A national parks pass is a must for anybody who loves the outdoors.
I've been going to RMNP for years now photographing the area and trying to do justice to it's size and diversity. The place is huge and I feel that there is so much more to see there. I have hiked many trails on both sides of the divide and driven over trail ridge road many times, but still want to explore the area more. So, on Tuesday I decided to hike up to a lake that I've wanted to see for awhile now. I tried to hike up there in the fall last year, but there was too much snow to get up there at the time. The place I'm talking about of course is Lake Haiyaha.
Lake Haiyaha is located in the Bear Lake area of RMNP. It is an easy hike at only 4.2 miles roundtrip and 745 feet elevation gain. You start from the Bear Lake parking lot and follow the signs from there towards Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. The first 1/2 mile is partially paved and I saw people pushing baby carts up this easy section of the trail. Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area of the park. I HIGHLY recommend going on a weekday as weekends can seriously tax your patience. Even on weekdays, you may need to park in the shuttle lot and take the free shuttle to the Bear Lake parking lot, at least in the summer until labor day.
Flowering Lilly Pads
Looking across Nymph Lake towards Longs Peak
After the first 1/2 mile, you will come to a lake called nymph lake. It is very small, but it's got some good views of Flattop Mountain and the keyhole route of Longs Peak. One thing I loved about it is that there were a bunch of Lilly pads and they were flowering. I've never seen lilly pads flower before until yesterday. Pretty cool if you ask me! There was also a momma duck and her baby ducklings on the edge of the lake. They were very cute.
View of Nymph Lake with the ducklings
Mamma and her ducklings
From Nymph Lake, it's a short .6 miles to another lake called dream Lake. I had gone to this lake last fall, so I didn't spend much time there this time. It is a very beautiful subalpine lake though and I highly recommend stopping by there. At this point, the trail splits and you can also hike from Dream Lake for another .7 miles to Emerald lake, at the base of Flattop Mountain. The trail is still basically flat at this point, but becomes more difficult as you have to navigate through boulders, rocks, roots, and creeks on your way up to the lake. Once you arrive there, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Flattop Mountain and Emerald Lake.
You get some great views of the back of Longs Peak and the Keyhole route while hiking to Dream Lake
Looking over Dream Lake to Flattop Mountain
This time, I stayed on the main trail and went another 1.1 miles to Lake Haiyaha. At this point, the trail becomes much steeper and rugged. It's still very easy, but compared to the trail up to this point, it's more difficult. After hiking some switchbacks for about 3/4 mile, the trail levels out near the lake. At this point, it is basically flat as you traverse the hillside past a few small creeks. Once you have crossed the logs across the creek, you will come to another fork in the trail. Stay to the right and follow the sign up to Lake Haiyaha only .1 mile away. If you go to the left, you can hike over to the Glacier Gorge area and access the Loch, Lake of Glass, sky Pond, Andrews Glacier, Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Black Lake, and Alberta Falls on your way to the Glacier Gorge parking Lot. This makes a great loop if you have all day and want to put on some serious miles.
Some wildflowers along the trail
From where the trail splits, it is just a short .1 mile to Lake Haiyaha. In some ways, this is the hardest part of the whole trail. The trail kind of disappears about 100 yards from the lake and you have to find your way through boulders to actually see it. It's a bit tricky getting over to it. After ducking under a twisted pine tree, you will be right at the edge of the water. There are several huge boulders here that you can sit down and relax on, with a good view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. It's a great place for lunch. Hiking around the shore is very difficult though. The area is basically a huge boulder field and there is no trail around the shoreline. It can be very dangerous and tedious trying to get around the lake and see the different views. So be careful if you decide to explore the area more.
This is the outlet of Lake Haiyaha
Looking over Lake Haiyaha
When you are done enjoying the beautiful views and want to head back, simply return down the same trail that you took to get there. Be careful not to go the wrong way at the fork in the trail, unless of course you are feeling ambitious and want to do the loop over to the Glacier Gorge Parking lot. It is 2.2 miles back to the Bear Lake parking lot from Lake Haiyaha and takes about an hour depending on how much you stop to smell the flowers along the way.
This is a very easy hike that doesn't take a lot of time but offers impressive views in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Distance - 4.4 miles round trip
Vertical Rise - 745 feet
Difficulty - Easy
Approximately 4 hours round trip from the trail head
Here is a link to information about Rocky Mountain National Park and maps of the area.http://www.nps.gov/romo