Loch Vale, also known as The Loch is one of the most popular hikes within Rocky Mountain National Park. The subalpine lake sits nestled below 13,153-foot Taylor Peak and Taylor Glacier. 30 ft Alberta Falls is an added treat while hiking up to the Loch.
GLACIER GORGE TRAILHEAD
Oh, I loved this hike, one of my favorites within RMNP. Gorgeous from the start, with the Loch being much more than I could have imagined.
From Glacier Gorge Trailhead it’s a pleasant easy-going 1/2 mile hike to 30 ft, Alberta Falls.
After a few dazzling minutes at the falls, we are off the find the Loch. Here we added our microspikes to our boots—slush, packed snow, and ice ahead on the trail.
The sun is warm, no wind, and the skies are bluebird blue! It’s hard to imagine we are hiking on snow yet it feels like summer.
However, we have all our extra layers and essentials knowing that high altitude in Colorado is so unpredictable.
The entire hike is SO breathtakingly stunning after leaving the falls. When reaching a signpost of various other trail options (keep going straight) the trail narrows, the views get bigger and the anticipation rises to reach the Loch.
My favorite outerwear for all seasons is a Patagonia Nano Puff Vest and a Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. I’ve had mine for years and love how light and easy they are to stuff in my pack. At high altitudes, in summer I’ve used one or both!
It’s been a moderate hike so far, nothing technical. Just rocky in spots, but the snowy areas take more energy and time.
Just before climbing up a series of steep switchbacks, it appears on our left to be a waterfall, now buried in snow that must be a delight in summer.
Now the snow is deeper, the wind is picking up, the terrain is steeper and the subalpine lake is just over the ridge. Ahhh, can’t wait.
Over the ridge and it’s simply captivating. Definitely takes your breath away. Loch Vale sitting at 10,000+ ft elevation within snow-capped peaks is sensational.
Hiking in Colorado should not be taken lightly. It’s a high altitude trail and dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider. For a look at the practical gear in our backpacks on every hike. > CLICK HERE
The wind is intense and the temperature is downright cold here. I have added my coat, my gloves, and my beanie as we wandered around part of the lake.
Finding an area that blocked the wind we did end up staying for a bit. It’s hard to leave it’s so amazing. Reaching an alpine lake in Colorado’s mountains is magical.
About a mile before reaching Loch Vale you come to a signpost (photo above) that gives you several more options. Hiking past Loch Vale will take you to Sky Pond which was too deep in snow for our gear today.
On our way back down from Loch Vale, we did take the trail to Mill Lake, which was another kind of beauty all its own. Highly recommend.
It’s late May, almost June, and trails at high elevations in Colorado are still covered in slush, ice, and snow. Microspikes (traction that easily attaches to your boots) make hiking in winter, spring, and early summer safer and more manageable!
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