Lake Haiyaha / Chaos Canyon, RMNP
Situated in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Lake Haiyaha area is roughly four miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead on the winter route. Starting elevation is 9475′ and is 10,244′ to the lake. Alternatively you can get to this via the Glacier Gorge Trailhead via the winter route to the Loche Vale. This takes route finding as you descend from Otis Chutes to get there. From the Haiyaha lake area the northern slopes of Otis Peak offer untold powder treasures. You have to be particularly careful on these slopes during the winter. On the return out you hit the area known as ‘Terrain Park’ which offers some great lines.
Hallet Peak (12,713′) and Otis Peak (12,486′) stand over Lake Haiyaha on the Continental Divide; the glacier between them carved out this canyon millennia ago, churning and depositing boulders throughout the basin.
Today the glacier forms Chaos Creek, Lake Haiyaha’s primary benefactor. Chaos Creek continues down valley and merges with Glacier Creek near the Glacier Junction Trailhead. The Haiyaha area is know as ‘Chaos Canyon’.
Fun facts: Haiyaha – a Native American word for rock – aptly describes this secluded, boulder-riddled lake in lower Chaos Canyon.
Follow signs from Bear Lake Trailhead for Lake Haiyaha. The trail climbs 230′ to the south shore of Nymph Lake (.5 miles : 9,705′). Nymph Lake is small, and barely noticeable in the winter but has terrific views of Hallet Peak (12,713′) and Longs Peak (14,259′).
The trail rises over Nymph’s north shore to an opening (.8 miles) with good views of Longs Peak, Keyboard of the Winds and Glacier Gorge. It eases to the Lake Haiyaha – Dream Lake split along Dream Lake’s outlet (1.05 miles : 9,910′). There are multiple routes in the winter from this area, usually the southern most skin track from Nymph is the way to go.
The trail veers left toward Lake Haiyaha on steep switchbacks for .3 miles, then moderates with good views up Glacier Gorge. You need to be cautious along this wall of the final switchback especially during considerable avalanche danger. The final .2 miles thread large boulders and talus to Lake Haiyaha (1.95 miles : 10,221′). From the lake you are at a launching point for multiple areas in the Chaos Canyon. Dream Chutes is another popular run. Instead of dropping down to Haiyaha after the switchbacks instead you keep going up the shoulder of Hallett Peak. The Dream Chutes drop you in to the Emerald Lake (Tyndall Glacier) drainage.