Loch Vale

Estes Park, Colorado 80511

Loch Vale

Loch Vale Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"With over 350 miles of trails to choose from Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a hiker’s paradise, but in my opinion the greatest concentration of beautiful alpine scenery lies in the vicinity of Bear Lake. Four trails leave Bear Lake in different directions to explore the eastern slopes of the Continental Divide.

The hike described here uses two of these trails to complete a loop south of the lake with side trips into three glacial canyons on the edge of the Divide. The route passes by no fewer than seven icy lakes, fed by the melting snow in the upper canyons. Five of the lakes lie above 10,000 feet, surrounded by a few stunted Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir that somehow manage to survive in an environment that buries them in snow for six months of every year. It is a harsh, unforgiving environment, but it also has a stark beauty that is hard to forget."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Easy Day Hikes: Rocky Mountain National Park (Falcon Guides)
Kent Dannen
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"Scenic as the euphonious Loch Vale Trail is in summer, it is even more so when low-angle winter light accents the textures of snow and stone on the peaks. One of the most popular trails in Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer, the path from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Alberta Falls is pleasant for winter travelers. But the frozen falls are probably less interesting than in the summer, and portions of the trail beyond often are swept clear of snow by the wind. Drifts in other areas may be hip deep. A pattern of on again, off again with snowshoes or skis would be likely on this slope. The large spruces and firs in the stream course present lovely forms and textures when clothed in snow. The risk of avalanche along the valley floor is slight, but caution is always necessary, especially after high winds following a snowstorm. This typical pattern may set up unstable snow slopes in atypical locations."

Loch Vale Trip Reports

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Incredible hike filled with beautiful rock formations! It's worth the trip all the way to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. Not many people past "The Loch" but very popular trail to "The Loch".
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One of the best hikes and most beautiful lakes in RNMP. Start early enough in the day to continue to Timberline Falls, Lake of Glass and Sky Pond for a great day of hiking!!

Loch Vale Photos

Trail Information

Estes Park
Nearby City
2,120 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
7.5 hours
Midsummer through mid-fall. The trails to the upper lakes are usually covered with snow from November through early July.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Local Contacts
McHenrys Peak (USGS)
Local Maps

Trail Log