Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 40.35190°N / 105.7409°W
Additional Information County: Larimer
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Elevation: 12480 ft / 3804 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Hayden Spire as seen from the approach from Bear Lake

Hayden Spire is the highest point of a rugged ridge composed of a series of spires that extend northeast from the Continental Divide looming over the remote Hayden Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hundreds of thousands of people see this mountain every year as they drive across Trail Ridge Road, though most will pay no attention as this hunk of rock looks relatively small compared to its lofty neighbors. The Forest Canyon Overlook is a great vantage point, which overlooks the insanely rugged and remote Forest Canyon and Hayden Gorge, including the spire that shares its name.

The easiest route to this mountains summit is via its Northeast Ridge (though this route doesn't really follow the ridge proper) and goes at 5.2. Note: THERE IS NO THIRD CLASS ROUTE TO THIS MOUNTAINS SUMMIT!!! Bernard Gillett, among others, claims there is a third class route from the south ridge. This is 100% false, and could potentially get your ambitious peak bagger in some trouble. There is a 5.3ish route that leads from the south ridge with extreme exposure.

However you get to this mountains summit, it will be well worth it! It takes a lot of effort to get there, but the little climbing there is enjoyable and the setting is spectacular. The beautiful summit offers fantastic views over a very seldom visited part of our world.

Getting There

Hayden from Lonesome LakeHayden Spire as seen from Lonesome Lake. Photo given with permission to use on Summit Post by Morning Light Photograhy.
This is arguably the most difficult summit to get to in the entire park. The two most feasible ways to get to its base are from Bear Lake or Forest Canyon Overlook. From Bear Lake it is about a 10 mile hike to its base. Along the way, you will climb Flattop Mountain and Sprague Mountain. If you want to save distance, then head through Forest Canyon, but you better be ready for the most rugged and nasty hiking you will ever face. Time wise, it will be a toss up.

From Bear Lake you will begin you climbing from the divide and from through Forest Canyon you will be climbing from Lonesome Lake(well named!).

To get to Bear Lake:
Enter the Park at the Beaver Meadows Entrance (hwy 36). Take your first left onto Bear Lake Road, and follow it until it dead ends (about 10 miles) at the Bear Lake Parking Lot. Follow the path about 1/4th of the way around the lake until you see the trail with sign directing you to Flattop Mountain. Follow that trail. At the summit of Flattop, take the Tonohutu Trail through the Bighorn Flats. Leave the trail and travel over the remainder of Bighorn Flats to Sprague Pass, then it's up and over Sprague Mountain along the divide until you get to Hayden Spire's south ridge.

To get to Forest Canyon Overlook:
Take Hwy 34 through the Fall River Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Follow Trail Ridge Road until you get t o the Forest Canyon Overlook pull off (there will be a sign). Aim for Hayden Spire and drop into Forest Canyon. You will want to head for Lonesome Lake. Good Luck!

Red Tape

The only permit required is a pass to get into the National Park. You can buy a week pass for $20, or an annual pass for $35.

Fees for admission.

Basic Rules/Regulations


There are not any official park campsites very close to this mountain. Your best bet will be to do this as a loooong day hike/climb, or take advantage of one of the "Cross Country Zones" in the National Park and camp/bivy near Lonsome Lake or Hayden Lake. Call the Backcountry office for details and more info... 970-586-1242

External Links

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