Haynach Lakes, Green Mountain Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Haynach Lakes - 16.7 miles
Green Mountain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||16.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,794' - 11,078' (11,106' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,284' net elevation gain (+3,097' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Haynach Lakes - 16.7 Miles Round-Trip
The Haynach Lakes are located 8.35 miles from Green Mountain Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. They lie at the head of a secluded north-south valley highlighted by large alpine meadows, braided streams and abundant wildflowers.
This long but moderate trail follows Tonahutu Creek past Granite Falls and Big Meadows into the upper valley, where it splits away through picturesque meadows to the basin. Visitors will enjoy several desirable campsites, excellent fishing and a good chance to see elk and moose on the hike to Haynach Lakes:
The Green Mountain Trail heads east into a thick lodgepole-fir forest. Look for wildlife in peripheral meadows along the way. Travel quickens to the edge of Big Meadows, Lower Tonahutu Trail and Big Meadows Backcountry Campsite (1.8 miles : 9,397').
Follow signs left on a level path for 1.2 miles around the NW side of Big Meadows. Big Meadows is an immense, marshy expanse ideal for seeing wildlife in big open space.
Spurs provide easy access to the meadow's open perimeter. The trail wraps west to the far side of Big Meadows and resumes travel in a thick fir-lodgepole forest (3.0 miles : 9,441').
The trail reaches Tonahutu Creek (3.35 miles : 9,446'), which you'll closely follow for the next 3.45 miles. The trail rises nominally to a spur for Sunset Backcountry Campsite (3.8 miles : 9,495'), just past which the forest breaks with access to a long oxbow in the creek. Sunrise Backcountry Campsite is located on the east side of this meadow (4.05 miles : 9,511').
The trail undulates in a thick forest through 4.5 miles (9,565'), then steepens on rougher terrain to Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite (5.05 miles : 9,748') and Granite Falls (5.2 miles : 9,785').
Granite Falls fan out and tumble about 20' before narrowing through a series of forceful chutes. A short, steep scramble leads down to outcrops with up-close up views on the water's edge.
The trail switchbacks over the falls to Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite (5.35 miles : 9,921'), located on the edge of another large, wet sedge meadow. Note the phasing of lodgepole and introduction of spruce as you cross 10,000' into an archetypal subalpine forest.
The trail grows steep in thick timber that suddenly breaks on the edge of Tonahutu Meadows (6.05 miles : 10,096'). This remote meadow is an ideal place to glass open space for wildlife, particularly elk and moose. The trail levels to the Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsite (6.05 miles : 10,114') on the far east side before re-entering a healthy spruce-fir forest.
The trail skirts another meadow (6.45 miles : 10,180') and climbs back to the split for the Tonahutu Group and Stock Backcountry Campsite (6.55 miles : 10,245'). The trail curls through a ravine and crosses a small stream to the Haynach Lakes Trail split (6.8 miles : 10,365'). Anticipate this turnoff as the sign is fairly anonymous.
The Haynach Lakes Trail turns sharply north and climbs steeply into a narrow valley. In short time the forest thins and valley opens to a picturesque meadows.
The trail passes two spurs for Haynach Lakes Backcountry Campsite (7.2 miles : 10,663') before edging higher along the east side of the valley. Remain vigilant as the trail frequently loses clarity through open areas. If off course, intuitively follow water up-valley to the lakes.
The trail climbs in short spurts, leveling through long tracts of meadow on the east side of the valley. It crests just before dropping to Haynach Lakes (8.35 miles : 11,078').
This main lake features an open, interestingly contoured shore that's easy to explore. Natural jetties and outcrops provide good fishing access. The big mountain framing Haynach Lake to the west is Nakai Peak (12,216'). The second (smaller) lake is located just down slope of the main.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N40 18.440 W105 50.464 — 0.0 miles : Green Mountain Trailhead
- N40 18.572 W105 49.974 — .5 miles : Reach 1st of many large meadows on this trail
- N40 18.610 W105 49.457 — 1.0 miles : Mild travel through fir-lodgepole forest
- N40 18.588 W105 48.772 — 1.7 miles : Green Mountain Backcountry Campsite
- N40 18.656 W105 48.718 — 1.8 miles : West edge of Big Meadows, bend north
- N40 19.124 W105 48.762 — 2.35 miles : Split for Onahu Creek Trailhead - keep rt
- N40 19.417 W105 48.220 — 3.0 miles : Reach far east end of Big Meadows
- N40 19.227 W105 47.929 — 3.5 miles : Mild grades in mixed forest
- N40 19.280 W105 47.681 — 3.8 miles : Sunset Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.353 W105 47.469 — 4.05 miles : Sunrise Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.357 W105 47.036 — 4.5 miles : Undulating climb in upper montane forest
- N40 19.150 W105 46.515 — 5.05 miles : Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.121 W105 46.377 — 5.15 miles : Granite Falls
- N40 19.185 W105 46.265 — 5.35 miles : Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.377 W105 45.755 — 5.75 miles : Trail grows steeper and rougher
- N40 19.554 W105 45.510 — 6.05 miles : Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.780 W105 45.016 — 6.55 miles : Tonahutu - Group Backcountry Campsite
- N40 19.885 W105 44.904 — 6.8 miles : Haynach Lakes Trail split
- N40 20.113 W105 45.190 — 7.2 miles : Haynach Lakes Backcountry Campsite #1
- N40 20.619 W105 45.552 — 7.95 miles : Trail opens in big meadow in east valley
- N40 20.803 W105 45.778 — 8.35 miles : Haynach Lakes
- Mild grades leading to and through Big Meadows make it ideal for families and winter recreation.
- The hike to Haynach Lakes offers some of the best and most diverse backcountry camping options of any trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Enjoy waterfalls from a safe distance, and steer clear of slick surfaces and steep drop-offs. Never underestimate the power and slippery perimeters of waterfalls.
- The west side of RMNP receives a foot or more of rain per year than the east side of the park.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
- There's a $26 fee to backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park (May 1 - October 31). This administrative fee covers each party (defined as an individual or group) for the duration of the trip. Note that park entrance fees are applied separately and in full.
- Reservations may be secured by mail or in person anytime after March 1 for a permit to be used in that calendar year. Phone reservations are accepted from March 1 - May 15, and anytime after October 1 for a permit in that calendar year.
- Camp safely away from dead trees, as close as possible to the metal arrowhead at each site. Red arrowheads on trees provide additional guidance to each campsite from the main trail.
Backcountry Campsites for Big Meadows, Granite Falls, and Haynach Lakes:
Big Meadows Backcountry Group Site (9,405')
- The Big Meadows Backcountry Group Site is located 1.9 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the west edge of Big Meadows. The site is located in a stand of mixed pine that looks out over the meadows. 1 site and a privy is available.
Sunset Backcountry Campsite Site (9,505')
- The Sunset Backcountry Campsite is located 3.8 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. A wood footbridge leads south over the creek to the site, located near the bank in a stand of mixed pine. 1 site is available.
Sunrise Backcountry Campsite (9,527')
- The Sunset Backcountry Campsite is located 4.05 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The site is located north of the trail over a pine-ringed meadow with an oxbow stream. 1 site is available.
Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites (9,747')
- The Lower Granite Falls Backcountry Campsite is located 5.05 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located in a forested area along Tonahutu Creek. The sites are .1 miles downstream from Granite Falls. 2 sites are available.
Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites (9,921')
- The Granite Falls Backcountry Campsites are located 5.35 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located north of the trail in a spruce-fir forest on the west edge of a wet sedge meadow. The sites are .2 miles upstream from Granite Falls. 2 sites are available.
Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsites (10,050')
- The Tonahutu Meadows Backcountry Campsites are located 6.1 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The sites are located in a spruce-fir stand between Tonahutu Meadows and Tonahutu Creek on the south side of the trail. 2 sites are available.
Tonahutu Group and Stock Backcountry Campsite (10,160')
- The Tonahutu Group and Stock Backcountry Campsite is located 6.6 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The site is located in a heavy spruce-fir forest on the banks of Tonahutu Creek. 1 site and a privy is available.
Haynach Backcountry Campsites (includes Llama Site) (10,678')
- The Haynach Backcountry Campsites are located 7.2 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the Haynach Lakes Trail. The sites are located in a spruce-fir glade on the edge of a meadow, just east of Haynach Creek. The sites are .5 miles north of the Tonahutu Trail split. 2 sites are available (permit required for llama stock).
- Haynach Lake holds several species of trout, and is designated as a 'catch and keep' location. There are reports of very large trout in the main lake.
- Contact the Ranger Office for specific regulations, which can change seasonally and with little notice. Limits are typically 2 fish over 10 inches, with the exception of the Greenback Cutthroat, which are catch and release everywhere in the park. 6-8 Brook trout under 8 inches are allowed.
Rules and Regulations
- A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Haynach Lake is accessed from the Green Mountain Trailhead on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Green Mountain Trailhead is located 38.8 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on the east side of Highway 34.
Follow signs for Trail Ridge Road from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Remain on this road for 38.8 miles to the Green Mountain Trailhead. Note that Trail Ridge Road becomes Highway 34 once over the Continental Divide.
Rocky Mountain National Park