Haynach Lakes – 17mi / 27.3km
Your only companions at this remote lake just might be the pikas in the rocks and the giant trout beneath the lake’s surface.
You begin climbing almost 700ft/210m up a cool, narrow drainage to Big Meadows. Keep your eyes out for moose and a couple of old, dilapidated cabins as you wrap around this gorgeous, flower-filled fen (see Big Meadows in 0-5 Miles for description). At the head of the meadow, you’ll come alongside Tonahutu Creek and follow it up the drainage as it splashes over the rocky streambed.
You’ll pass Granite Falls where the creek splashes and slides over the rock (see Granite Falls in 10-15 Miles for description), then up through the lovely Tonahutu Meadows. A brutal climb begins at the signed junction for the lakes where you tightly switchback up the steep drainage. Small meadows give way to larger meadows. Once in the upper basin, the trail tours through each glorious meadow, some dotted with small ponds, until you reach the lake.
At the lake, a peninsula juts out into the middle and is a perfect spot to observe fish swimming below and marvel at the rocky ridgelines surrounding the lake.
Trailhead: Turn into the signed Green Mountain Trailhead parking area 2.6mi/4.1km north of the Grand Lake Entrance off the Trail Ridge Road.
Elevation Gain: 2,850ft / 855m – Elevation Loss: 2,850ft / 855m