Hey! Thanks for coming to my site, in this blog I am going to give my tips and advice for hiking Chasm Lake in the winter, one of Rocky Mountain National Park's best hikes!
Pictured above: @breezydaysahead enjoying sunrise alpenglow with Chasm Lake & Long's Peak.
Chasm Lake is located in the southeast area of Rocky Mountain National Park. RMNP is in Estes Park, Colorado, just 60-90 minutes from downtown Denver. It's some of the most accessible mountains in the state of Colorado, especially for those just visiting for a short trip.
The spec's for this hike: 8.8 miles roundtrip out and back hike with 2,542 feet of elevation gain. It's a big day for the average hiker, with the winter elements always throwing difficulties.
Winter Hiking Chasm Lake Tips:
Pack water. Although this may seem obvious, do not forget this. For day hikes I fill my 2 or 3L water bladder and put it in my backpack. Another option is to just carry a water bottle, 32 ounces should be good for this hike. Also, it's never a bad idea to be prepared for a worst case scenario, packing something like a lifestraw, a bottle with a built in water filter, or water tablets that purify water.
Check conditions! This one is so crucial. I check the local weather in Estes Park first. But then when you're high up in the Rockies, it's important to go a step further. I personally use Mountain Forecast. For Chasm Lake, this is a great link to reference - https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Longs-Peak/forecasts/4345 . This is the weather forecast for Long's Peak (the mountain behind Chasm Lake), you can look at temperatures, wind speeds, and wind chill at different altitudes. I wouldn't recommend going if the wind speeds are above 25mph.
Pack warm. After checking the weather, next step is to pack accordingly. Colorado can have crazy snow storms but then the next day, amazing blue bird skies with nice temperatures. Based on the temperature, you could need base layers, thermal layers, shell, leggings, snow pants, etc. Definitely pack gloves and some sort of hat or beanie.
Sunscreen. You're in the high alpine, the sun is strong. Even in the middle of winter you can get scorched.
Sunglasses. This is one of those rules I'm recommending but don't always follow myself. But it's very important, especially if it's sunny. The sun reflects off of the white snow and can be damaging to our eyes without protection.
Snow safety equipment: If you're doing this in the winter, pack accordingly with protective gear. If a snow storm just happened, you'll likely need snow shoes if a few feet of snow just came in. If it's been a few days since a storm and the snow has melted or solidified, microspikes work just fine, that's what we used. Crampons are probably overkill for this hike. An axe wouldn't hurt, but it's unlikely you'd use it. At the minimum, bring spikes.
Know what you're getting into. For some, this is a calm training day. For most, this is a serious day hike not to be taken lightly. Make sure everyone in your party has experience in the alpine, and has some winter hikes under their belt.
Go early. In the winter, you don't need a timed entry permit for this trailhead (at the time of writing this). Chasm Lake & Long's Peak get lit up by the sunrise. It's one of the most beautiful sunrises I've seen in Colorado. The alpenglow lights up the Diamond Wall on Long's Peak and it is just incredible.
Pack snacks. Larabars, chews, waffles, gels, a turkey sandwich, whatever you like. You'll be burning calories and will want fuel, and the lake is a great spot for a snack.
Bring a GPS safety device. Winter in the alpine takes hiking up a few notches and can be very dangerous. There are search and rescue missions all of the time in the backcountry. Have an activated GPS safety device in case of a worst case scenario. I use the Garmin inReach.
That's about it! Enjoy one of the most beautiful hikes Colorado has to offer! If you'd like to see more of my photography, my short films, or my documented adventures. My YouTube and Instagram are below, thanks!