Sunrise Hike to Peacock Pool

Rate this Adventure 4 miles 2200 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Lucas Boland

Gorgeous peaks. Alpine meadows. Cascading waterfalls. Watch the first light of the day hit one of Colorado's most iconic peaks with a perfect reflection in this pool below. Only 20 minutes outside of Estes Park.

Many people hike to Chasm Lake every morning to sit right at the base of Longs Peak as it lights up pink-ish orange from the cresting sun. Along the way there, they look down upon and hike right past Peacock Pool, a lesser known and certainly underrated viewpoint of Longs. In my opinion, getting to take in more of the alpine scene with a stunning waterfall in the foreground offers a strong alternative to the popular Chasm Lake. When watched the sun rise at Peacock Pool there was only one other person there, a photographer, and nobody else came down for the almost two hours that we hung about. Chasm Lake, however, had dozens. To begin, you've got to get there. The hike takes about 2 to 3 hours, so you'll want to leave early enough to have plenty of time to park and not have to run up the mountain. Being at the trailhead around 3-4 AM (depending on the time of year) should give you enough time. To find your way you'll initially go through Estes Park, taking the CO-7 E until you reach Longs Peak Road. After you take that up a bit you'll come to the parking lot. Luckily since you are there before sunrise you will find plenty of parking. If you were to come up later though, the road would be lined with cars almost back out to the main road. There is a small ranger's office if you want to pick up a map or get any information about the area. This hike is within Rocky Mountain National Park, so you'll likely need to purchase a day pass. The Longs Peak Trailhead will be very easy to find from the parking lot and easy to follow. You'll want to follow the signs to Chasm Lake to navigate your way there. The trail steadily climbs almost all the way to the lake. There is an elevation gain of approximately 2200 feet over 4 miles. For half of the time you'll be in the trees and you'll pass a cascade about 1.7 miles in, though you won't be able to see it until the way back down. As you get out of the trees you'll come into an open boulder field that you will continue straight through. At this point it will likely be getting lighter out and it won't be as difficult to see. You'll go up a steeper portion that reaches a flat trail-junction area with some outhouses. Here many people will be splitting off to make an attempt at Longs Peak or to continue up to the Boulder Field. Continue towards Chasm Lake. After another half mile or so you will reach the Chasm Meadow. This is where you will break off to the West and scramble down the rock face over which the Columbine Falls is pumping. It is moderately steep and difficult, but going slow and finding good footholds and handholds should be enough for you to safely descend. From the base of the waterfall you'll have to bushwhack a bit to get to the pool. Keep going around to the west side in order to get a perfect view of Longs and the reflection in the glassy water. Stay a while and maybe try to catch some of the fish that will be jumping all morning. If you'd like, you can climb back up and continue on to Chasm Lake. This will add on about an extra .4 miles and around 300 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy the insane views of the Colorado Rockies - cheers!

OPTIONAL: In order to shave off a little distance and get some extra sleep before the hike, you can camp the night before at a backpacking site, Goblin's Forest. It's about 1.2 miles in on the trail and has 6 sites. For this you'll have to obtain a $26 backpacking permit and have a bear canister. It might be expensive but if you're coming from further away it is nice to give yourself a head start!

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