Ypsilon Lake

Estes Park, Colorado

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Crossing the rubble left by the Lawn Lake flash flood, the trail to Ypsilon Lake passes Chipmunk Lake, a surprisingly dramatic mirror reflecting Ypsilon Mountain. Ypsilon is the Greek letter corresponding to our letter Y. Very conspicuous Mount Ypsilon is named for the snow-fi lled gullies that form a Y across the huge bowl-shaped cirque cut by glaciers on the mountain’s east face. Ypsilon Lake takes its name from the mountain against which it rests. Switchbacks from the Lawn Lake Trailhead lift hikers through a ponderosa pine forest on the side of a steep slope laid down thousands of years ago by the icy conveyor belt of a glacier. The back-and-forth trail eases passage up and down this lateral moraine, but that is not the main virtue of switchbacks. They also eliminate erosion from hikers’ or horses’ feet by keeping this wear and tear on a less-steep slope, where it is less forceful and damaging than on a straight up-and-down path. Do not shortcut the switchbacks.
Best Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Best Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park

by Kent Dannen (Falcon Guides)

Crossing the rubble left by the Lawn Lake flash flood, the trail to Ypsilon Lake passes Chipmunk Lake, a surprisingly dramatic mirror reflecting Ypsilon Mountain.

Ypsilon is the Greek letter corresponding to our letter Y. Very conspicuous Mount Ypsilon is named for the snow-fi lled gullies that form a Y across the huge bowl-shaped cirque cut by glaciers on the mountain’s east face. Ypsilon Lake takes its name from the mountain against which it rests.

Switchbacks from the Lawn Lake Trailhead lift hikers through a ponderosa pine forest on the side of a steep slope laid down thousands of years ago by the icy conveyor belt of a glacier. The back-and-forth trail eases passage up and down this lateral moraine, but that is not the main virtue of switchbacks. They also eliminate erosion from hikers’ or horses’ feet by keeping this wear and tear on a less-steep slope, where it is less forceful and damaging than on a straight up-and-down path. Do not shortcut the switchbacks.


© 2015 Kent Dannen/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Estes Park
Distance: 9
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 7 hours
Trailhead Elevation: 8,540 feet
Top Elevation: 10,540 feet
Local Contacts: Rocky Mountain National Park Backcountry Office, 1000 US 36, Estes Park 80510; (970) 586-1242; www.nps.gov/romo
Local Maps: USGS Trail Ridge; Trails Illustrated Rocky Mountain National Park
Driving Directions: Directions to Ypsilon Lake

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Apr 2018