Rocky Mountain National Park: Chasm Lake 

For the ultimate view of Longs Peak's 1,000-foot Diamond Face, climb to Chasm Lake on this 8-mile out-and-back that tops out above treeline.


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Author: MichMan01
Date: 19 Jul 2011 11:36:36 AM
Activity: Hiking
State: Colorado (CO)
Distance: 8.2 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 2623 ft
Total Loss: 2623 ft
Net Change: 0 ft
Difficulty: 4 / 10
USGS Topo Map: Longs Peak
Tags: Boulder, Colorado, Denver, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

From the Longs Peak Trailhead, follow a wide path that climbs steadily through ponderosa pine toward Chasm Lake and the summit of Longs. This trailhead is more remote than others in the national park, but as the gateway to the park's only fourteener, it can be a veritable highway of hikers in July and August.

Switchbacks occasionally edging mountain streams eventually reach treeline just past mile two. From here, the trail heads across a wide, rocky basin toward Longs Peak, which is now in view. Crest a small ridge at mile 3.2 this is a great place to drop your pack for a quick snack, photo op, and use the privy, if necessary. (Why not? It has no roof and a great view of Longs' 1,000-foot Diamond Face.)

From here, edge left down into the valley that leads up to the Diamond. In early to mid summer, cross a patch of snow on the descent to columbine-lined stream crossings in front of the patrol cabin that sits at the base of the class-II scramble. Chasm Lake is still out of view.

South of the cabin, scout out cairns on the rock above. Although other routes through the short cliff-bands are doable, the cairns mark the easiest route, and it's a good practice to stay on the designated trail.

In five or ten minutes, summit your scramble to impressive views of the Diamond and icy Chasm Lake at its base. Shoo away aggressive marmots and chipmunks as you search for climbers on the Diamond and Ship's Prow, to the left.

PERMIT: Overnight camping in Rocky Mountain National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backco untry.htm.

MORE PARK INFO: Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo.

-Mapped by Jenn Fields

TO TRAILHEAD: From Estes Park, take CO 7 E. Turn right toward Longs Peak Campground (marked by brown National Park sign). Turn left at the Y-junction, and park in trailhead lot.

Position Format: Datum:
Tracks

Chasm Lake

Distance: 8.20 mi Points: 418
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Chasm Lake

Points of Interest

CHA001

Location: 40.271774, -105.556450
Trailhead and Longs Peak Ranger Station is well equipped with modern toilets, but can be very crowded on summer weekends.

CHA002

Location: 40.274994, -105.564110
Turn left at the Y-junction half a mile from the trailhead.

CHA003

Location: 40.272994, -105.570524
Pass the spur trail that leads to a backcountry campsite.

CHA004

Location: 40.273212, -105.580032
Cross an upper branch of Alpine Creek on two sturdy wooden bridges.

CHA005

Location: 40.270432, -105.578568
Around 10,700 feet, the steep, stair-stepped trail crosses treeline. Look for the Twin Sisters across the valley.

CHA006

Location: 40.270691, -105.581444
Lift your eyes off the trail and start watching for views of Longs Peak's Diamond Face to the southwest.

CHA007

Location: 40.270828, -105.584282
Turn left at Y-junction following signs for Chasm Lake.

CHA008

Location: 40.267544, -105.591400
Above treeline, the rocky path is cairn-marked in some stretches. Pass a cairn here.

CHA009

Location: 40.265656, -105.592537
Turn left at this Y-junction. The well-traveled path to Longs Peak veers right at this point.

CHA010

Location: 40.265625, -105.591949
Privy: This outhouse has excellent 360 views. Go even if you don't have to.

CHA011

Location: 40.264179, -105.594810
Peacock Pool is the small lake to the south; Chasm Lake is out of view, beyond the moraine to the southwest.

CHA012

Location: 40.258827, -105.600601
Bear left for yet another photogenic privy before your arrival at the lake.

CHA013

Location: 40.258595, -105.601021
Patrol cabin: Hopefully you'll never need to meet the rangers that work here.

CHA014

Location: 40.258172, -105.602818
Chasm Lake: Bring binoculars to seek out climbers ascending the Diamond Face. Turn around and retrace your steps to the trailhead.


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