We started this hike at 4:30am from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead at Bear Lake, with our headlamps on and the beautiful sun just starting to peek over the mountains. Wasn't much of a surprise to see the parking lot already filling up with other hikers who were attempting to summit Long's Peak or make it to Sky Pond before the crowds and storms rolled in. We suggest leaving the trailhead before 7am if you attempt to summit, storms tend to move in over the mountains between 12-2pm, you should be below treeline to avoid lightening strikes before 1pm. Also, the parking lot fills up fast! If you don't get a spot at the trailhead, you can plan to park pretty far away and have to take the free shuttle from one location to another.
This hike is roughly 9 miles roundtrip with a 1,780ft elevation gain, which took us roughly 6 hours total from start to finish (3.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down). There is roughly a 394ft elevation gain per mile and is rated as a 'strenuous' hike at 12.60 trail rating in difficulty. Mount Ida sits at 10,900ft in elevation. The hardest part of the hike, aside from a steep incline as you get closer to Timberline Falls, is the scramble up to Glass Lake on the side of Timberline Falls. You'll see a sign for Sky Pond pointing towards the falls, you are not mistaken, the trail to the next two alpine lakes and your final destination are reachable by scrambling up the 100ft waterfall on the right side. Take it slow and watch your step, totally worth it.
Be sure to bring sunscreen, gloves, rain jacket, hat, sunglasses, food, and plenty of water (we each brought 1 gallon of water). Be sure to read up on what Altitude Sickness is, the signs, and how to help or prevent it.
Overall, the scenery is beautiful, you'll see marmots and other wildlife, and the alpine tundra is a different kind of beautiful once you get to Sky Pond. Be aware of the winds and don't get summit fever if it gets to be too much to handle up there, winds can reach 80mph easily. Also, be sure to keep your eyes out once you reach Glass Lake for the trail that runs along the west (right) side of the lake to Sky Pond.
Get Out There!
Check this website out for more detailed information on the hike to Sky Pond.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.