I’ve hiked extensively in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I have to say that the hike to Chasm Lake at the base of Longs Peak is probably my favorite in the whole park. I’m not alone in that assessment. Although it’s a bit of an effort, you are rewarded with absolutely stunning views of craggy rock faces and Longs Peak, and if you go in June and July you will also be treated to huge clusters of columbine, the state flower of Colorado. These flowers usually are few and far between, and you’re lucky to see one or two on most hikes. On this hike you could see dozens.
You will start in the Long’s Peak Trailhead, so try to get there early (i.e. 7 or 8 am) to get reasonable parking and be off the mountain before the afternoon thunderstorms hit. During peak summer months you’ll probably end up parking on the road leading to the trail head parking lot, as many hikers who are doing the peak start around 3 or 4 am.
You’ll start hiking in forest, and at roughly 2 miles you will hit treeline and emerge to increasingly revealing views of the peak.
At 3.5 miles you’ll hit a fork in the trail, with the right going up to Longs Peak, and the left going up to Chasm Lake. Shortly after that point you’ll hit a pause in the climbing where most folks stop for a bite to eat and take pictures of the trail leading up to the lake. The views at this point start getting epic, and the trail mellows out.
If you are hiking in July, you will see several clusters of columbine as you proceed.
You then cross an alpine basin.
At this point you begin a steep climb among boulders and some scrambling. It’s hard to find the trail here, but if you head up, you are generally going in the right direction.
Once you get up, you’ll be treated to epic views of the lake.
And you’ll see an occasional critter looking for a treat!