The hike to Fay Lakes began from Lawn Lake Trailhead. This is an intense off-trail hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. We upped the ante and decided to do it late fall when there was still plenty of snow on the ground.
The chain of the 3 Fay Lakes lie in one of the most beautiful and remote valleys I’ve seen in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sandwiched between Ypsilon Mountain and Fairchild Mountain.
Video of our Hike to the 3 Fay Lakes
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To reach the Fays, you first have to hike 4.5 miles (1 way) to Ypsilon Lake. This is where most people stop. Upper Fay Lake was our first destination. We decided to go up the eastern side of the Blitzen Ridge, climbing up from the northeast side of Ypsilon Lake. There was no social trail and no cairns. The rock was loose in places but never got any worse than class 2 scrambling. We gained too much elevation on the ridge that wasn’t needed but found our way into the valley.
Put on snowshoes for some of the hike then took them off in the valley where we hopped boulders surrounded by deep snow.
Upper Fay Lake (11,220 feet)
Upper Fay Lake was mostly snow covered when we arrived. There was no wind. It was so quiet. Overwhelmed with a sense of being somewhere so beautiful and remote, away from everything.
We walked across Upper Fay Lake to the northeastern outlet and could see Middle Fay Lake. The route from Upper Fay Lake to Middle Fay Lake was straight forward and nothing too challenging. Even in deep snow. In about .3 miles we arrived at Middle Fay Lake.
Middle Fay Lake (11,020 feet)
Another completely frozen over lake with amazing views of Fairchild Mountain and the Blitzen Ridge. Stopped briefly to take a couple of photos then made our way down to Lower Fay Lake.
The route from Middle Fay Lake to Lower wasn’t as straight forward as the last one. We followed the creek and descended a few hundred feet for about 1/2 mile until we reached Caddis Lake (Lower Fay Lake).
Caddis Lake (Lower Fay Lake) 10,740 feet
Lower Fay Lake AKA Caddis Lake is surrounded by trees. Reaching this lake from Ypsilon Lake requires some bushwhacking and very good route finding skills. You will be in a dense forest which limits the ability to eye landmarks. We got lost on the way back which you can read more about here.
Fishing at Caddis Lake. Near Chipmunk Lake we saw a fairly new sign that said Greenback Cutthroat Trout (endangered) swim these waters. Although we didn’t see any swimming beneath the ice, I wanted to add this tidbit for all the fishermen out there.