Explore To The Dunes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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The falls are amazing, heed all advice regarding footwear.
The road up is 3 miles of extremely rough terrain.
I saw all sorts of cars, slow going.

At over 12,000 feet not everyone would consider the uphill part of the trail easy. The views are spectacular. Of course there are too many people.

hiking
3 days ago

It's my first time to climb a sand dune. I didn't imagine it's so hard to hike on the sand dune. It's really hard but funny. The only problem is sometimes the wind is so strong that you cannot even open your eyes. I think it's better to wear a long sleeved clothes. I didn't wear it and I felt pain when the sands beat me. There will not be many people climbing to the top of the dune, so I felt proud for my success.

hiking
5 days ago

Did this trail on Aug 5. Took us about 1 hr and 45 min total with young children. There's a bathroom at the TH, and about 18-20 parking spots in the main lot plus a lot more along the road and in another parking lot plus a picnic area with its own parking lot. There are a lot of benches along the way up the trail. It is a "hot" trail with not much real shade, mostly consisting of short trees, shrubs, and cactuses. Nice views of the sand dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mtns including the Crestone Needles. Bring water shoes and a small towel--it was definitely nice to have warm, dry socks and shoes to slip back into after walking in the ICY, numbing water! The water level was about ankle deep in most places. Fun, but our young boys didn't enjoy getting their feet so cold. The falls with the cave were definitely neat!

hiking
10 days ago

We got to the Bear Lake trailhead at around 7am on a Thursday and the parking lot was about half full, but with cars streaming in. The hike to Lake Haiyiha was beautiful and generally well shaded. They weren't a ton of other hikers on the trail. Instead of backtracking, we hiked over to Mills Lake then retuned by Glacier Creek Trail. The Glacier Creek Trail was a mass of humanity, mostly going the opposite direction, so we had to stop a lot. It was also the only part of the trail with little shade. Frankly, we just tried to power through this section to get back to Bear Lake.

hiking
12 days ago

We decided at the last minute to add this trail after going to Emerald Lake. The first part is a rocky, steep incline that leads to a switchback. Not long after the switchback are some gorgeous Mountain views. The sun was going down and hitting the mountains perfectly. The lake is about another mile from here. You have to do a bit of a boulder scramble to see the lake, but it’s worth it!

12 days ago

really gorgeous destination. the lower trails were crowded with obnoxious tourists who were violating protected restoration spaces and picking flowers (in a national park, smdh). once we got through the crowds and up into the trail that takes you explicitly to lake haiyaha, it was a really nice hike. definitely worth it.

great little jont to the falls!! walking the falls was great wish i had my rain boots!

A+++

So beautiful!! Could be considered hard for casual hikers, and for avid hikers moderate.

Beautiful hike with great streams along the way to the lake.

on Lake Haiyaha

15 days ago

Excelllent hike. Highly recommend adding the side trip to Dream Lake. At the intersection with the Glacier Gorge Trail, we had a close meeting with a bull moose. Parking is limited. The shuttle from the Park n Ride (4 miles before Bear Lake), is the way to go. Buses run every 15 minutes.

hiking
15 days ago

Nice jaunt to a high elevation view of the top of Trail Ridge Road and 360 degree view of the Rockies. Lots of cool tundra plants and flowers. Do the little rock scramble at the end to the actual memorial. See how many mountains you can pick out.

hiking
16 days ago

This may be my favorite lake hike i've done so far in Estes. While loch lake is beautiful, it has a lot mores switchbacks on the ridge in the sun. Haiyaha is more covered and has less people. The hike has a little bit of everything and you get a great view of the park on the way up. Took me about an hour and a half to get up with some boulder climbing at the end. I'd highly recommend!

Very neat experience! Definitely tough on the way up. Really suggest going early, especially if you bring dogs! Also make sure to wear shoes you don’t mind getting sand in.

hiking
18 days ago

Doesn’t look very appealing from the beginning of the trail but we are so glad we stopped to hike this one. Very cool trail with mushroom rocks and a couple lookouts at the top of the trail. I thought the wild flowers everywhere were awesome. Climb up on the rocks for very cool views in all directions. Took us about 45 min from start to finish with about 15 min to check out the views from the top. Hiked July 11. One of the better trails we stopped at on trail ridge road.

19 days ago

Very nice hike. Beautiful lake with big rocks to climb over at the end. Had lunch there and took in the awesome views. Look for the old gnarled bristlecone pine there - a very unique tree. We continued on to Black Lake.

Got there just after 8, the weather was nice and cool. Great views all over. Saw a deer.

Very enjoyable. Great break in a long car ride. Breathtaking scenery. The trail itself was an easy walk. Not a place to stop if you are looking for solitude, but if you like meeting people it’s amazing. Every time we were trying to take pictures someone would offer to help so we could get nice shots of all of us.

hiking
21 days ago

Definitely worth the BUMPY ride up to the trailhead.

22 days ago

Great hike. The views are awesome at the lake! Explore around and climb the boulders. Cool little cove to the right. Definitely a less traveled trail! Bear Lake parking lot said full at 8am, but we grabbed a spot. Spent quite a bit of time at the lake and as we came down we were passed by the masses going up!

hiking
22 days ago

Haiyaha is a quieter lake compared to its neighboring Emerald Lake and Dream Lake. Massive rocky boulders line the lake edge and make for good spots for sitting with a snack. The lake is big - don’t be fooled by the little pond right before it. I started at Bear Lake Trailhead and looped to Dream Lake, Emerald and the Loch and ended at Glacier Gorge Trailhead where I caught a ride back to the nearby Park and Ride. It’s a nice workout with a mix of inclines and shade and views.

Challenging, but not too challenging. It should be made aware that there are large boulders that need to be crossed in order to see Lake Haiyaha.

rock climbing
22 days ago

This was the best part of our hike!

Hiked Memorial Day Weekend. Absolutely beautiful hike! But please note that the lake is 6 miles ONE WAY, thus making this hike 13 miles if you include the Falls. We started around 9 am, and it took roughly 6 hours to do both and take a lunch break at the lake. Very steep trail, but once you hit the boulder fields it flattens out. Make sure to bring enough water, it gets hot in the afternoons. Lots of people were trying to start the hike (with no layers, visible water or snack supply) when we were finishing without realizing how far it really is.

hiking
25 days ago

This is an awesome short hike with great payoff. A few tips:
-the road up to the trailhead gets a bad rap, but I didn't find it to be too bad. I managed fine in my 2WD Ford Fusion. Just go slowly (5-10 mph max) and choose your line carefully. The road is plenty wide, so you have a lot of options to avoid the larger rocks. There are a few ruts in the road, but we didn't bottom out. Low and slow!
-The hike up to the river isn't difficult, but note that you do have to wade in the river to reach the falls; you can't see them from the trail. Tevas, Chacos, or similar might be better than shoes/boots. My water proof boots were great until I had to wade in water up to my mid-calf!
-If you feel like extending the hike, you could take the turn off to South Zapata Lake. The hike to the lake is long, but there are some old mining cabin ruins about 1 mile above the falls. The sign for this portion of the trail turnoff is misplaced (it must have fallen over), but the well-defined trail is on the right just before you reach the river crossing.

Enjoy!

hiking
25 days ago

Hiking on the Dunes is such an incredible experience. We went at sunrise, and it was well worth it. Some things to keep in mind:
-hiking in sand is much more difficult than regular hiking. It's a short distance (approx a mile to High Dune), but each step takes a lot more effort than hiking on usual surfaces
-we went the morning after a rainstorm. The sand was more packed/hard than usual, and this made hiking much easier. I highly recommend it!
-even though it's counterintuitive, wear shoes/boots/socks, not sandals. The sand can get quite hot and it burns. Even if you start out in the dark/early morning, the temperature can rise quickly.
-be careful in planning your path to the Dune; avoid the fragile plants!
-if it's windy, you'd appreciate long pants, a hat, and a windproof jacket (a rain jacket would do). At one point while sand boarding, I even wished for goggles.

Enjoy!

Suggest a SUV, AWD vehicle for ride up to trailhead. Once there, nice little rocky hike to falls. Wear the appropriate shoes (sandals) to make it into the inner walls of the cave/falls. Sweet little adventure. Highly recommend

hiking
28 days ago

Hiked this trail on Saturday 7/14 after doing the 3 lake trail to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald. So much prettier at Haiyaha and the trail had more breathtaking views on the way up. Honestly I was slightly disappointed at Emerald after reading all of its reviews, but the extra detour I took to Haiyaha made it worth it. Climbing the giant boulders right before reaching the lake made the hike a bit more challenging, which was what I was looking for. Also don’t miss a beautiful unnamed lake full of boulders to the right of the trail just before reaching Haiyaha.

hiking
28 days ago

Uphill, rocky hike. Pretty quick trip, took a while to drive up the rocky mountain in our scion tc but we made it. Waded through the ice cold creek to the falls. Definitely wear hiking boots or Teva’s if planning to go all the way to the falls (you can’t see it from dry land)

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