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Icy Hike to Bierstadt Lake

The weather has been great so we wanted to head up into the mountains for the 3rd weekend in a row. In fact, we're 3-for-3 for hiking on the weekends in 2022. That won't last for long, but we've been taking advantage of the unusually great weather during the weekends while we can. There hadn't been any recent snowfall, which doesn't make it great for snowshoeing, but since it was forecasted to be sunny with little wind, we figured why not go and try and snowshoe to Bierstadt Lake. This was the hike that we were planning on doing last weekend, but when we got hit with an unexpected road closure, we had to pivot to a different area of the park.

Every time I've ever driven past Bierstadt Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, the lot has been full. It's the 3rd parking lot from the top, so it usually fills up pretty quickly, particularly since it only has 12 parking spaces. Since Bierstadt Lake was our destination, that was our first pick for a parking spot. Our contingency was to start at Bear Lake (which also likely would have had a full parking lot), and our plan C was to start at the park and ride parking lot. We somehow managed to get a parking spot at Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, so we grabbed the last parking spot, considered ourselves lucky, and started the hike.

The views from the hiking trail were pretty spectacular. The whole way up we had clear views looking East to West, being able to make out many of the peaks along the Continental Divide. We got started with our hike a little earlier than normal, around 10 am, so the sun was still low enough to get some shots of the Western Peaks, but not any decent photos of the peaks looking due East or South. With no snowfall in over a week, the trail was packed down and icy, but that didn't stop us from snowshoeing it. Because it was practically ice, I think we would have had better balance with just crampons, but when we got to the lake we were finally in some snow where the snowshoes were necessary. The first views that we got from the South-West end of the lake were pretty disappointed because you couldn't really see anything beyond the lake and the surrounding trees. It wasn't until we hiked to the East side of the lake that we got gorgeous views of the lake with Hallet Peak in the distance, as well as Otis Peak, Flattop Mountain, and Ptarmigan Point.

Trailhead Location
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3.28 mi 2.2 hrs 9,361 ft 712 ft
View Graph
Continental Divide
Disapointing View
Bierstadt Lake
Hallett Peak
Hallet Peak Through the Trees