Driving over the Continental Divide on Trail Ridge Road is one of our favorite activities when we have summer guests. The views are amazing, although now they include vast areas of fire damage on the Grand Lake side. Trail Ridge Road goes through Rocky Mountain National Park. On our last trip over the Divide, we realized there was a great stock trailer parking spot near the Alluvial Fan. I decided to check out what trails we could access from that area.
If you follow the hotlink to more information about the Alluvial Fan, you will learn that it is a result of the failure of an earthen dam that contained Lawn Lake. Lawn Lake is north and east of Ypsilon Lake. Both Lawn and Ypsilon Lake Trails are horse-friendly. Lawn Lake Trail is 13 miles out-and-back, while Ypsilon is listed at a hair less than 9. The additional mileage reflected in my Garmin recording below allows for the quarter-mile trek to the stock parking area. As you can see, I am not kidding when I say it is up, up, and up!
Lawn Lake is listed as having an additional 300 feet elevation gain as well as being 4 miles longer. We may try and get there before we head to Arizona in September. My gelding has started coughing in the last couple of weeks. I have started him on antibiotics but he is also a mild asthmatic. We are heavily impacted by smoke from the California wildfires. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks before I challenge him with an even harder climb!
Ironically, there is a small lake that hikers and riders encounter prior to reaching Ypsilon Lake that, in my opinion, is even more beautiful than the destination lake! The feature photo shows this much smaller lake. We didn’t even realize we had not reached Ypsilon Lake until hikers returning to the trailhead set us straight.
It was sunny and not raining when we reached the first lake. We had our snack there and then rode on to Ypsilon. The hikers who educated us asked if we had viewed the smaller lake from the side of the lake opposite the mountains. We had not, so we made sure to do that on the way back.
It wasn’t much farther to Ypsilon Lake, and there is a hitching rail. As I have repeatedly noted, hiking in cowboys boots is the pits! The trail down to Ypsilon is clearly not horse-friendly, as you can see from this photo!
Perhaps Ypsilon Lake would have been more beautiful to view if it hadn’t been so cloudy. Rain was threatening, and by the time we got back to the smaller lake, it was raining. Our “best side” view of the smaller lake shows the light rain that was falling.
We took our rain ponchos off and on a couple of times as we returned to the trailer. Sadie threw a rear shoe somewhere along the way and Alan heard the shoe come off! Other than the significant elevation change, the trail isn’t very technically challenging compared to many that we have done this summer.
The photos below show the view of Moraine Park, the parking lot where the trailer is, various trail photos, as well as photos of Lake Ypsilon and the steep trail down to the lake.
I took this photo to demonstrate the power of water in the mountains. I suspect this washout occurred during the flood of 2013. There are several areas like this that we pass on the way to Estes Park and back. There are a few cabins that are literally hanging on the edge of a cliff after the water washed away real estate. Flooding in burn scar areas remains a significant threat in this area.
New tags are in and ready to ship! As this blog posts, we are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The smoke here is unbelievable, all from the California and Oregon wildfires. Are you ready for whatever happens?