Overland’s Best Day Hikes: Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’re looking for a great day hike that’s not too hard or too long, read on to learn more about the Lake Haiyaha day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

PART ONE: BASICS

  • Trailhead: Bear Lake trailhead
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Roundtrip miles: ~ 4 miles 
  • Elevation gain: ~ 846 ft
  • Type of Trail: Out and back

PART TWO: FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT BY VETERAN OVERLAND LEADER NICKY PREDINA.

Veteran Overland leader Nicky Predina led Overland’s Rocky Mountain Explorer in 2023. Nicky led three groups of teens (the students were 13 and 14 years old) for two weeks at a time. During their stays in RMNP, Nicky led the groups on the Lake Haiyaha day hike.

What It’s Like

Pretty populated trail that is well marked and worn-in; started off being pretty exposed, then took us through a shaded area with plenty of trees that eventually brings you to the beautiful clearing that is Lake Haiyaha (which has gorgeous aquamarine water that just absolutely glistened on a nice sunny day!). While others might not like that it’s so crowded, I personally loved seeing so many other people enjoying the outdoors and it was a great way to teach the kids basic trail etiquette skills. 

Why I Love It

It was a great introductory, “first-taste” hike to get a perfect blend of mountain views and alpine lake views without too much terrain difficulty. The hike wasn’t the most difficult one in our itinerary, but it certainly isn’t a walk—it’s a hike, and you have to work at it. I felt a clear sense of accomplishment after this hike. 

Why It’s Memorable

The kids loved eating lunch beside the lake. Some went down the rocks to play near the water while others found an empty rock to take in the grand view and enjoy their lunch. This was a great hike to introduce the kids to all the beautiful sights of Colorado in a non-overwhelming way.

Overland Leader Nicky Predina At-A-Glance

  • Hometown: Mentor, Ohio
  • College, Major, Year of Graduation: Kenyon College, Political Science (with a dance and Spanish minor), 2023
  • Post-College Plans: Dual degree in law and social work at Case Western Reserve University
  • Summers on the Overland leading staff: 2022, 2023
  • Trips led: New England Adventure ’22, Alaska Explorer ’22, Rocky Mountain Explorer ’23

What One of Her Co-Leaders Had to Say

“Nicky was an excellent leader, and friend to me and her students. Nicky took initiative on tasks, handled all situations beautifully, and was a stand-up role model. Nicky dealt with any issue that was thrown at her and communicated in an effective and efficient manner. I am truly so grateful to have led with Nicky and I hope we lead together again next year. We had an absolute blast in the Rockies together.” – Allie Braun 

PART THREE: ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The National Park Service offers this information:

  1. Haiyaha is an indigenous word that means “rock” or “lake of many rocks”, or “big rocks”, depending on the translation.
  2. Ranger Recommendation: Instead of doing an out-and-back hike, hikers also have the option of making this into a loop hike by going to Alberta Falls, or a longer hike by backtracking and taking the trail to The Loch or Mills Lake.
  3. Due to the popularity of this hike, you might want to arrive early. The Bear Lake area is busy, especially in summer and on fall weekends. Parking often fills by early morning. Roads are congested. The park’s free shuttle bus is here to help: you can ride the shuttle to popular trailheads, all while avoiding the hassle of dealing with traffic and searching for parking.
  4. Storm Warning: Weather in Colorado can turn in an instant. Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Check the forecast before heading out. Lightning can strike anywhere in RMNP. Watch for building storm clouds and return to the trailhead immediately if you hear thunder. As a general rule, try to be back at the trailhead by noon.

Here is a selection of some relevant online resources:

Free Download

How To Choose A Summer Adventure For Your Child

Get first-hand insights into what you should look for when choosing the next summer travel adventure for your child.

Hidden

    author

    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Apply for Trip

Apply for trip

Info Sessions

info sessions