Green Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Date hiked: 08/12/2020
- Hiked from: Glacier Gorge trailhead
- Distance hiked: 11+ Miles RT
- Total elevation gain: 2,500 ft *will vary*
- Maintained trail: No – trail ends at Black Lake
- Overall Difficulty: 8/10 – Route finding is essential. Winter conditions make this destination much more difficult.
- Overall Views: 9/10 – Views of the Spearhead, Chiefs Head Peak, McHenrys Peak, Longs Peak. One of the most scenic trails in the park.
Green Lake should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Sitting near the top of the Glacier Gorge, and the base of Pagoda Mountain, the views here are on par with Sky Pond. We did this as a day hike and paired it with other high elevation lakes in the Glacier Gorge, Frozen Lake and Blue Lake.
If you plan on making the hike to Green Lake, I recommend leaving the Glacier Gorge trailhead by sunrise or earlier. Afternoon thunderstorms in the summer can be blocked from view by surrounding mountains, and you are completely exposed to the elements.
Bypassing Alberta Falls via the Fire trail will save you 1.8 miles round trip. Often used by serious climbers, experienced hikers, photographers, and many others that don’t mind skipping past Alberta Falls.
Green Lake is Remote
A GPS device, map and compass is highly recommended. If you are familiar with the park and the surrounding landmarks, it makes it easier to navigate to and from. Once you pass Black Lake, you will hike up a steep rocky, good trail up to dense willow and tundra. It’s wide open here.
Take caution when following cairns out here. Climbing routes, Frozen lake, and climbing campsites may be there intention, the cairns may also lead you nowhere at all.
We stayed on the east side of the stream for most of the hike through the tundra, then crossed before you climb up a couple boulders to get to Green Lake.
If you like back country adventurous day hikes then this is the place for you. There probably won’t be any other people around, but if the wind isn’t blowing, you can actually hear conversations from people on the Keyhole Route of Longs Peak. The echoes in this cirque at the mouth of the Glacier Gorge are pretty amazing.
Continue to “Italy Lake” 11,620′
There is a small unofficially named tarn just south of Green Lake that requires a little bit of scrambling to get to nicknamed “Italy Lake”. We found staying on the east side is easier to access then the west, as we did a loop around Green Lake. This is add about .2 miles round trip and 80′ of elevation gain to the hike. The echoes at “Italy Lake” are even more intense on a windless day.
“Italy Lake” is small and shallow, but gave me goosebumps because of how quiet it was. The amount of serenity I felt at “Italy Lake” was unreal, as every word echoed, seldom we would hear people on the Keyhole route though. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had in the park yet.
Route we Took to reach Green and “Italy Lake”
Paired the hike to Green Lake with Frozen and Blue Lakes.