Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Hiking Project Logo

Best of Bear Lake Area Loop

 4.6 (69)


5.7 Miles 9.1 Kilometers

1,293' 394 m


-1,309' -399 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (22°)

10,194' 3,107 m


9,273' 2,827 m


Shared By Brian Smith


Minor Issues 27 days ago
Snowy, Some Mud, Icy History

Getting forecast...

A splendid loop highlighting the natural beauty in and around the Bear Lake area.

Brian Smith

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Beginning and ending at the Bear Lake trailhead, this wonderful loop hits on many of Rocky Mountain National Park's biggest attractions. Along the way you'll have the opportunity to take in the views at four beautiful lakes as well as one stunning set of cascades.

Need to Know

As with many hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, this route travels through high elevation. Starting around 9,300' and topping out at 10,200', this trail could prove strenuous to unacclimated visitors.


From the Bear Lake trailhead, follow the signs for Dream Lake onto a well traveled, asphalt-sealed trail. Hiking is very easygoing along the Dream Lake Trail as it contours at very mellow grades up the slope.

Just over 0.5 miles from the TH, you'll reach Nymph Lake, a picturesque mountain lake that makes for a good place to take in the surrounding peaks. Continuing up the trail, you'll eventually cross Tyndall Creek and come to a junction with Lake Haiyaha Trail. Hike just past this intersection to reach Dream Lake.

Dream Lake is a spectacular, narrow lake that sits in a drainage on the rugged eastern slope of Flattop Mountain. Retrace your steps on Dream Lake Trail back to the intersection with Lake Haiyaha Trail and turn right (south).

Lake Haiyaha Trail heads over the ridge then trail switchbacks its way through dense forest before quickly topping out and descending towards Chaos Creek. Cross the creek and start hiking up the southern bank past a junction with Lake Hayiaha Cutoff. Soon afterwards, the trail descends to Lake Hayiaha.

Enjoy the beauty of the lake before retracing your steps on the Lake Hayiaha Trail to Lake Hayiaha Cutoff. Turn right on Lake Hayiaha Cutoff and follow it as the trail descends at moderate grades before flattening out drastically. The trail contours around the eastern flank of the West Glacier Knob before dropping down to the junction.

Turn left (east) onto Loch Vale Trail and begin the descent along Glacier Creek. The trail is mostly flat to start as it passes through the Glacial Knobs but it steepens as it switchbacks down toward Alberta Falls. At Alberta Falls, Glacier Creek thunders down this spectacular waterfall that ranks as one of the park's more popular hiking destinations. Continue your descent along Loch Vale Trail to a low spot and cross Tyndall Creek. Follow the trail up the northern bank of the drainage for a short climb back to the Bear Lake TH.

Flora & Fauna

This route travels almost entirely through drainages that have been carved out by eons of runoff. These tributaries and their associated moisture contents create natural settings rich in ecological diversity. Look for riparian vegetation typical of this environment including various willows, mountain alder, and water birch with dark-colored bark. In a few places, blue spruce may grow near streams and sometimes hybridize with Engelmann spruce.


You & This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Your Check-Ins


Oct 31, 2018
Han Guo
Oct 29, 2018
Sam F
Icy in parts and fairly crowded except for Lake Haiyaha cutoff trail. 5.7mi
Oct 20, 2018
Nick Chlam
Oct 18, 2018
Rebecca Peterson
Added extra loop to see emerald lake! 7mi
Oct 13, 2018
Vanessa Bayer
Also made the trek to emerald lake
Oct 12, 2018
Penny Reimer 'Nichols'
Sep 30, 2018
Julie Campbell
Sep 29, 2018
Chandra Nalluri

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 69 votes


in Bear Lake


  4.6 from 69 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Bear Lake


in Colorado


489 Views Last Month
11,394 Since Jan 30, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate




Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking