Chiquita Lake, Lawn Lake Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Chiquita Lake - 10.6 miles
Lawn Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.6 miles (distance will vary by route)|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,540' - 11,356' (11,382' max elevation on route)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,816' net elevation gain (+3,365' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Chiquita Lake - 10.6 Miles Round-Trip
No trail reaches the lake, but a challenging cross-country route follows a social trail up Ypsilon Lake's inlet stream to the confluence with Chiquita Lake's outlet stream, which it loosely follows on a steep climb through treeline to its source at the lake.
Chiquita Lake is small and won't earn a spot on most RMNP pin-up calendars, but few head here and you'll likely have the valley all to yourself.
Cascades along the way are particularly photogenic, flowers can be prolific and there are a few points with inviting camping terrain.
The approximate distance between Ypsilon Lake and Chiquita Lake is one mile and 810' vertical. Individual routes will vary.
Off-trail alpine travel can take more time than distances might indicate, especially on sections of talus and krummholz right below the lake. Rain can make these scrambles difficult - avoid when wet or when rain is imminent.
Only experienced hikers with good navigation skills should attempt Chiquita Lake:
The Lawn Lake Trail climbs 534' to the east bank of Roaring River (1.0 mile : 9,074') and levels to the Ypsilon Lake Trail split (1.35 miles : 9,180').
The Ypsilon Lake Trail veers left across the river, turns SW and climbs steeply to gain the west valley wall ridge (1.85 miles : 9,520').
It bends NW along the spine and climbs steadily through nondescript forest to an open flat (2.45 miles : 9,940'). Steady climbing resumes and gradually moderates to a crest (3.7 miles : 10,710') before dropping to Chipmunk Lake (3.9 miles : 10,640').
Chipmunk Lake is little more than a pond, but with terrific views of Mount Ypsilon (13,514') and the eponymous 'Y' shaped couloir on its east face.
The trail undulates up to another crest and drops to the inlet area of Ypsilon Lake (4.3 miles : 10,546'). Find the inlet and a clear path heading up the left side.
This social trail is primarily used to reach the Spectacle Lakes but serves the route to Chiquita well. It climbs sharply beside several waterfalls before leveling off and crossing the creek (right) on consecutive foot bridges (4.45 miles : 10,730').
The trail crosses the base of a cairn-marked rock slide to a brushy clearing near the Chiquita - Spectacle Lakes outlet stream confluence (4.55 miles :10,760').
The confluence is indiscernible, but a tall cascade off to the left is Chiquita's outlet stream and what you're after. Leave the reasonably well-defined social trail, cross the creek (left) and head for the cascade.
Navigation is now fairly clear even though the best path is not. Expect heavy brush and deadfall until clearing treeline.
The path is intermittent and nominally visible but does aid travel. Note the point of transition to the meadow; you'll want to regain this path on the return.
Travel steepens up to wide bands of talus under the lake. There's no perfect route but scrambling and rock-hopping can be minimized with good scouting.
Better terrain awaits above the talus, where you'll punch or weave through krummholz down to the narrow shore of Chiquita Lake (5.3 miles : 11,356'). Open space is limited but high points on the rim provide terrific views of the cirque, Mount Chiquita and the valley through which you traveled.
- N40 24.439 W105 37.564 — 0.0 miles : Lawn Lake Trailhead
- N40 24.648 W105 37.722 — .55 miles : Steady climb over Horseshoe Park
- N40 24.911 W105 38.013 — 1.0 miles : Level out on high bank over Fall River
- N40 25.203 W105 38.085 — 1.35 miles : Ypsilon Lake Trail split
- N40 25.176 W105 38.117 — 1.4 miles : Cross to west side of Roaring River
- N40 25.076 W105 38.395 — 1.85 miles : Steep climb to valley wall ridge
- N40 25.554 W105 38.746 — 2.45 miles : Moderate on high flat
- N40 25.890 W105 39.183 — 3.0 miles : Steep climb up ridge spine
- N40 26.172 W105 39.580 — 3.5 miles : Travel moderates in healthier forest
- N40 26.336 W105 39.731 — 3.8 miles : Chipmunk Lake
- N40 26.455 W105 39.873 — 4.1 miles : Upper Chipmunk Lake Campsite
- N40 26.589 W105 39.899 — 4.3 miles : Ypsilon Lake
- N40 26.614 W105 39.968 — 4.4 miles : Waterfall along inlet
- N40 26.632 W105 40.036 — 4.45 miles : Cross first two foot bridges
- N40 26.672 W105 40.113 — 4.55 miles : Stream confluence area
- N40 26.657 W105 40.138 — 4.6 miles : Cross creek toward cascade
- N40 26.624 W105 40.340 — 4.8 miles : Hope small creek
- N40 26.585 W105 40.399 — 4.9 miles : Cross treeline to sloping meadow
- N40 26.580 W105 40.535 — 5.05 miles : First of several talus scrambles
- N40 26.503 W105 40.625 — 5.15 miles : Top of talus near lake rim
- N40 26.469 W105 40.683 — 5.3 miles : Chiquita Lake
Camping and Backpacking Information
Backcountry Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
- A permit is required for all backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Permits may be obtained from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center Backcountry Office, or the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at Grand Lake. Day-of-trip permits may be obtained in-person, year round.
- There's a $26 fee to backcountry camp in Rocky Mountain National Park (May 1 - October 31). This administrative fee covers each party (defined as an individual or group) for the duration of the trip. Note that park entrance fees are applied separately and in full.
Ypsilon Lake and Lawn Lake Backcountry Campsite Information
Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Campsite
- The Upper Chipmunk site is located 4.2 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 10,640'. There are two individual sites and a privy. The sites are located northeast of the Ypsilon Lake trail between Chipmunk Lake and Ypsilon Lake in a dense pine forest. Water is available from the outlet of the pond or from Ypsilon Lake. The water is slow moving and a filter would be helpful in addition to your purification measures.
Backcountry Campsites en route to Lawn Lake and Crystal Lakes:
- The Ypsilon Creek, Cutbank and Golden Banner sites are located on the west bank of Roaring River. A spur from the Lawn Lake Trail (2.9 miles, +1,092') crosses the river and forks with access to each:
Cutbank Backcountry Campsite
- The Cutbank site is located 2.6 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,620'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from Roaring River.
Ypsilon Creek Backcountry Campsite
- The Ypsilon Creek site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,560'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest above the confluence of Ypsilon Creek and Roaring River on the west side of Roaring River. Water is available from both sources.
Golden Banner Backcountry Campsite
- The Golden Banner site is located 2.9 miles from the Lawn Lake Trailhead at 9,600'. There's one individual site with access to a privy. The site is located in a lodgepole forest on the west side of Roaring River (.3 miles north of the river crossing). Water is available from Roaring River.
A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary, however special regulations exist. It's your responsibility to know and follow them.
Due to the dynamic nature of fisheries management, fishing regulations can change at anytime. Special closures may be put in place above and beyond what is listed here. Contact the park before heading out for current information.
Only catch and release fishing is permitted along the Roaring River, Lawn Lake, Crystal Lakes, Ypsilon Lake and related drainages.
- A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years + to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary, however special regulations may exist for each location. It's your responsibility to know and obey them. Regulations may change at anytime. Special restrictions may be put in place above and beyond what's listed here. Contact the Park before your trip for current information.
- No bait or worms are allowed in catch-and-release waters.
- Certain waters in the park with restored native fish populations are open year round during daylight hours, except as indicated. Use barbless hooks only. Any and all fish species taken must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
- Method of Capture: Each person shall use only one hand-held rod or line. A 'second rod stamp' is not honored in park waters. Only artificial lures or flies with one (single, double, or treble) hook with a common shank may be used. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices made entirely of, or a combination of, materials such as wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber, designed to attract fish.
- This does not include: (a) any hand malleable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; (b) any device to which scents or smell attractants have been externally applied; (c) molded plastic devices less than 1.5 inches long; (d) foods; (e) traditional organic baits such as worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, minnows, and fish eggs; and (f) manufactured baits such as imitation fish eggs, dough baits, or stink baits. Fly fishers may utilize a two hook system, where one hook is used as an attractant.
- While in possession of any fishing equipment, bait for fishing (insects, fish eggs, minnows, or other organic matter) or worms is prohibited. Children 12 years of age or under, however, may use worms or preserved fish eggs in all park waters open to fishing except those designated as catch-and release areas.
- Use of lead sinkers (or other lead fishing materials) is strongly discouraged.
Rules and Regulations
- A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Ypsilon Lake and Chiquita Lake are accessed from Lawn Lake Trailhead in the north-central section of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Lawn Lake Trailhead is located 5.0 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.
Directions: The Lawn Lake Trailhead is located 2 miles north of Highway 36 along Fall River Road.
From the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, continue west on Highway 36 past Bear Lake Road to Deer Ridge Junction (3 miles). Turn Right at Deer Ridge Junction onto highway 34 and drive 1.9 miles to Fall River Road. Turn left onto Fall River Road and the Lawn Lake Trailhead will be immediately on your right-hand side.
Rocky Mountain National Park