Loch Lake and Sky Pond: Hiking In Rocky Mountain National Park

One of our favorite hikes so far has been Loch Lake and Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park! It is simply stunning.

Lake of Glass
Lake of Glass, Rocky Mountain National Park

Scroll to the end of this post to watch the short vlog video we put together from this hike.

If you missed my post last week about hiking to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain NP, be sure to go back and check it out!

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking Loch Lake and Sky Pond trail

Things you need to know before you go to Loch Lake and Sky Pond

Where is the trail located?

Sky Pond hiking trail is located inside of Rocky Mountain National Park near the town of Estes Park, Colorado.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park
Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

At the time of this article being written, timed entry passes for the park are required from 6am-5pm. Be sure and check the RMNP website here for current information about the park before your visit.

Where should you park?

The trailhead starts right by the Glacier Gorge parking lot. Make note, this is a VERY small parking lot and is known to fill up by 5am.

Trail markers for Loch Lake and Sky Pond
Trail marker

We got lucky, and after circling a few times, a space opened up and we were able to park.

You can also park at the Bear Lake parking lot if there are open parking spaces, but this will add half a mile each direction to your hike.

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    If you can’t find a parking spot at either lot, don’t worry. There is a large parking lot on the way in that offers free parking and shuttles.

    River flowing through Rocky Mountain National Park
    River flowing by the trail. Rocky Mountain National Park

    Beware though, the shuttles stop running at 7:30pm so if you’re not done hiking by then, you will have to hike back to your car or get a ride down with someone else. We picked up a few hikers on our way down and gave them a ride to their car as they didn’t know this and were stranded!

    Are there multiple things to see on the hike?

    Yes! You will come across multiple waterfalls, lakes, and probably lots of wildlife as well.

    Hiking to Loch Lake and Sky Pond
    Hiking to Loch Lake and Sky Pond

    How difficult is the Loch Lake and Sky Pond hike?

    Sky Pond is rated as a difficult hike. There is a lot of uphill climbing and an elevation gain of over 1,800 feet.

    The trail is 9.5 miles long and is an out-and-back type trail, meaning you will hike back out the same way you hike in.

    Hiking selfie
    Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park

    If you don’t want to hike that far, stay with me. There are plenty of other amazing stops along the way that would be worth hiking to as well! (Spoiler alert, we didn’t make it all the way to Sky Pond ourselves!)

    Other things you should know

    Be prepared for bad weather. We didn’t prepare like we should have…Since we did this hike in July, we assumed it would be warm.

    Hiking trail
    Hiking trail

    In reality, it started raining half way through and was quite chilly! Some hikers we passed said it was actually snowing further up the mountain. Bring a jacket!

    I had brought along an extra t-shirt and ended up adding it as a layer towards the end of our hike.

    View of river from trail
    View of river from trail

    Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and are only allowed in the parking lots and the areas you can drive in.

    You are allowed to fish in Loch Lake and Sky Pond as long as you have the proper permits.

    Alberta Falls
    Alberta Falls

    First stop, Alberta Falls.

    Alberta Falls is an impressive waterfall located about 0.8 miles into the hike. Getting here is fairly easy with an elevation gain of only 250 feet.

    We found this part of the trail to be the most heavily trafficked. There were a lot of people there on the weekend we visited. After we got passed this part of the trail, there was a lot less foot traffic.

    Alberta Falls
    Sitting by Alberta Falls

    If you enjoy waterfalls and are looking for a short/easy hike, this would be perfect for you!

    Elk grazing by Loch Lake
    Elk grazing by Loch Lake

    My personal favorite, Loch Lake!

    Personally, I think this was my favorite part of the hike. It was simply SO beautiful!

    Loch Lake
    Loch Lake

    When we first got to the edge of the lake, I heard an animal coughing. At first I thought it was a bear and was terrified haha! After further investigation (cautiously) we found that it was an elk!

    We hiked around the side of the lake just a bit and came across a gorgeous view of 20+ elk congregating around the edge of the lake.

    Loch Lake selfie
    Loch Lake selfie with elk grazing in the background

    With the elk running through the water, the calves playing together, and the beautiful snowcapped mountains framing the picture from behind, it was easily one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed!

    We spent quite a bit of time standing there watching them before we decided to move on.

    Timberline Falls
    Timberline Falls

    Next up, Timberline Falls

    Timberline Falls is probably the most challenging part of this hike. To reach the Lake of Glass above it, you have to vertically climb the waterfall.

    If you don’t have good upper body strength, this can be particularly difficult. Be sure to take your time, don’t rush, and if you need to sit and scoot back down, do it.

    Timberline Falls
    The part of Timberline Falls we had to climb

    Be careful as falling on the rocks could be particularly dangerous and it’s a long hike back out.

    That being said, it is absolutely breathtaking and the view at the top is totally worth it!

    Lake of Glass
    Lake of Glass

    Lake of Glass

    As soon as you get to the top of Timberline Falls, you are greeted with a stunning panoramic view! Lake of Glass is crystal clear and flows over the falls.

    If you look back over the trail you just climbed you have a beautiful far-off view of Loch Lake as well.

    Loch Lake from a distance
    View of Loch Lake in the distance

    We sat on the edge of Lake of Glass and took in the beauty while we recovered from our climb.

    Last up, Sky Pond

    Now to be honest, we didn’t make it all the way to Sky Pond. It is about a half mile past Lake of Glass. We made the hard decision to turn around early because it was starting to get dark and we wanted to make sure we were down the mountain before dark.

    Climbing down the waterfall
    Climbing down the waterfall

    We were sad that we didn’t get to make it all the way, but everything we saw along the way made the hike totally worth it!

    Wildlife we saw on our hike

    Elk calf
    Elk calf

    As mentioned above, we saw lots of elk! In addition, we also saw a ground hog, birds, and lots of chipmunks.

    Loch Lake and Sky Pond Overview

    All in all, even though we didn’t quite make it to Sky Pond, this is still ranked in our top 3 hikes ever.

    Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
    Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

    The beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park is truly incredible. Pictures don’t do it justice! You definitely need to add this park to your bucket list if you haven’t already.

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      We hiked a total of 9.05 miles and made it round trip in about 4 hours and 45 minutes.

      River flowing through Rocky Mountain National Park
      River flowing through Rocky Mountain National Park

      I highly recommend getting started earlier in the day. Unfortunately we were not able to as our timed park entry was not until 3pm.

      Sky Pond Trail
      Sky Pond trail

      We hope you enjoy hiking to Loch Lake and Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park as much as we have!

      Be sure and watch our YouTube video below to see more of the incredible beauty.

      Also, if you’re not signed up for our emails already, please do. I have some exciting things planned that I can wait to share with you soon!

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        Click here to read about our hike to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

        Much Love, Janae xoxo
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        12 thoughts on “Loch Lake and Sky Pond: Hiking In Rocky Mountain National Park”

        1. Stunning! We LOVE Colorado and have really considered moving there. It would be awesome to do all these hikes on a weekend, instead of having to plan a whole trip around them. Fingers crossed for a future move there!

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