Trip Report – Lake Haiyaha, RMNP

After reading the severe trail condition report on the RMNP website, Dustin and I decided to approach Lake Haiyaha from the Loch Vale trail.  Much different scenery filled our eyes than our first and second time along this trail.  Eighty plus feet of snow finally yielded to spectacular blooming wildflowers.  Outcrops of rocks, sprouted new green life.  Finally, spring/summer has arrived.

IMG_5970 IMG_5992

The Loch Vale Trail, by way of Glacier Gorge,  is much easier without snow, than with snow.  The climb, not near as daunting, the sheer snow faces gone, all trail signs pointing the way are visible, and Alberta Falls is magnificent with her liquid gold spilling into Glacier Creek.    A section of the trail, along a ridge by Glacier Knobs, is comprised of loose rock.  Due to this, I recommend a rigid hiking shoe or boot. 

IMG_6015 IMG_5969

After departing the Loch Vale Trail, we only saw one group of hikers along the The Lake Haiyaha spur.  This trail is considered to be unimproved, but we were able to follow it without much trouble.  As we walked, the ground seemed to become greener right before our very eyes.  Much of the area just lost its last bit of snow that very week, and the ground with its blanket of green, sprang under our feet.  Water poured down hillsides, enriching the landscape.  Several tiny creeks beckoned us, and we stopped to admire the tiny brookies feeding in the rich water.  It was tough to pass up these little guys, but the goal of the day was to check out Lake Haiyaha. 

IMG_5915 IMG_5898

With every step, our surroundings became snowier, yet breathtaking.  Lake Haiyaha did not disappoint.  Boulder strewn banks, crystal clear water, frozen inlet, thigh deep snow surrounding,  and Yellowstone cutthroat…need I say more.  Perhaps Dustin and I had a brave streak, because we took across the boulders to check out the inlet.  One wrong move, and we had the potential to be trapped, or fall 10 feet into icy water.  A gentle step, and a sturdy core were essential in this rough terrain.  Once at the inlet, we stopped, admired, and reflected on how lucky we are. 

IMG_5916 IMG_5924

Alas, we were not able to target those beautiful Yellowstones.  We sat idly by, as two chunky, 16-18” fish cruised at a depth of about 3’.  Threatening clouds, and warning thunder let us know we needed to start our descent, as boulder hopping proved quite time consuming.  On the way back, we crossed some of the snow fields instead of boulder climbing along the bank.  Adrenaline pulsed through our veins, as we had no idea what holes existed under the snow.  A few times, we post holed or slid, but nothing too treacherous befell us.  Sighing with relief, we concluded that if the rain moved away we would target some of those brookies on the way back to the car.

IMG_5935 IMG_5936

Off trail hiking has yet to let Dustin and I down.  Venturing off the beaten path has lead us to less wary, hungry trout.  A fitting reward for climbing deadfall, and sacrificing pints of blood to the voracious mosquitoes.  Dustin pulled several brookies out of a tiny, tiny stream.  I watched as I rigged up my rod, and swatted away the would be takers of my precious blood.  Moving on to a gin clear pool, nestled on the edge of the mountain, Dustin and I took brook after brook.  The fly could barely touch the water before a starving fish inhaled it.  I’ve never seen fishing like this before in my life.  Granted, these guys were bitty, but that did not make them any less spectacular.

IMG_5946    IMG_5957 IMG_5951 IMG_5955

Every weekend, a new adventure allows us a brief time to get get away from all our daily trials, escape to a place where our mind is quiet, the senses enriched and our hearts full. 


PS: This trip report is just a bit delayed – the conditions contained here are those found a week ago.

Written by Stephanie Mullins



Sounds like a great little getaway. Really beautiful pictures, it's always amazing to see how lucky we are to live in such a great place.

Sorry you didn't get to fish the lake, I was hoping for a report (I was thinking about checking it out this week) Glad you fed the brookies…well done 🙂

Stephanie and Dustin

@Sanders – Get up there in the morning before the afternoon thunderstorms roll through, or make it a late afternoon hike and fish after the storms. We thought the storm would miss us due to the direction of the wind, but of course with our luck, the weather passed right over the top of us. Being on the lake with a rod in hand is not the place for me when lightning is in the sky!

Fontinalis Rising

You made the right call boogieing out of there- I've rode out those storms up high and it's not good. The mountains there are so beautiful, and your pictures are amazing. Thanks for bringing us along.


My goodness, I've forgotten how beautiful the park is. Thanks and I'm so glad you are enjoying it and posting great photos!


Absolutely gorgeous country. I look at some of those pics and just think…tenkara water…tenkara water! You were brave running through that snow, glad you made it thru safe!


Those are some beautiful pics of RMNP. Sitting here in Kansas with excessive heat warnings and 100+ temps for the last week those lush green trails and cool clear streams still lined with snow look insanely inviting. The 3rd photo from the bottom is just amazing , really nice work!


Great report and great blog, Stephanie! Just found it from a River Damsel post.

We were just in RMNP the first week of July and hiked up to Dream Lake with plans to continue to Haiyaha, but the snow fields kept us back. We were lucky to get into some smaller greenbacks on Dream Lake but also had to hunker down during a hail storm that rolled in.

I've been trickling out stories of our fishing adventures that week on and will post one about Dream Lake shortly.

You have a new follower!

Stephanie and Dustin

@FR – Those high elevation storms are down right scary. We had no desire to "ride it out".

@Howard – The park is remarkable…we'll never be disappointed, fish or no fish.

@Mike – Tenkara is a frequent discussion topic. It won't be long until some of our savings dollars head down the Tenkara path. It just seems to fit a lot of the places we like to go.

@MM – A 100% different world – that is why I love it so much. It is easy to forget all the crappy stuff that lies at 5000ft!

@Joe – Hop on in…the water is COLD!

@RD – We could definitely target some brookies while you are here. I'll start looking into some easier hikes.

@Jeff – One of the things we do not miss about home – those excessive heat warnings and 70+% humidity. Yuck! Even here, we love to escape the heat with a hike to the high country.

@Bill – Thanks for the compliments! I love the waterfalls pouring down the mountainside. With the record snowmelt, waterfalls are everywhere.

@Dean – So glad you found us! Did you get into any greenbacks in spawning colors? The snowfields in early July via Dream Lake were still pretty hairy, but the trail from Loch Vale to Haiyaha only contained one snowfield. Around the lake was a different story! You have a new follower as well!

@Justin – Thanks! The scenery makes great photos.


Yes, we did land some smallish, but very colorful greenbacks, Stephanie. I still need to write a post about Dream Lake (it's been a month already!). Thanks for the follow.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *