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Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls & The Loch Vale- Rocky Mt National Park

FYI:

  • Stone Cup carpoolers, please arrive at the Stone Cup by 7:15am.
  • Westminster carpoolers arrive at Westminster at 6:30am
  • Those meeting at the trailhead, arrive around 8:45a... If you arrive at 9am or later, the park enforces mandatory shuttle with delays and you may get separated from the group.

 

This is one of the most spectacular hikes I have ever been on, and one of my favorites. It is rated #2 in the nation for beauty in Trails.com. The trail to The Loch, a beautiful lake near the end of Glacier Gorge is 3.1 miles each way. Trailhead starts near Bear Lake Road. There are several beautiful waterfalls along the way. -James Burkett

 

Thank you to James for suggesting this meetup! He will be our designated "boy scout" / trail guide as he has experienced this trail before.

The Loch, also known as Loch Vale

The Loch Vale

 

 

 

Click on this link for a MAP & directions to carpool locations, trailhead, and restaurant: http://goo.gl/maps/I5gpo

 

Itinerary for the day (all times are estimated):

6:30am: Meet at carpool location (for Denver-area folks)- Westminster Center RTD Park N Ride

6:45am: After quick introductions and loading up, we will depart promptly at 6:45am. (I plan to take myself + 6 people in my Expedition, which is an 8-passenger vehicle)

Carpool info, how to plan for it in advance:

  • Since there is a fee to get into the area, we will try to coordinate so that each car has someone with a park pass. If without a park pass, the cost is $20/ vehicle, Valid for seven consecutive days, including date of purchase (or you can purchase an Annual Park Pass on the day of the hike for $40).
  • If you plan to be a driver, double-check those thoughts after knowing that Bear Lake Road is currently a dirt road (formerly concrete) while under construction. We appreciate anyone still able to drive. (I will take myself and 6 others in my Expedition)
  • Due to the construction, we will need to pack ourselves into as few cars as possible.
  • Oskar Blues in Lyons is expecting us in the afternoon. While it's ok to not be able to continue with us for the post-hike dinner, please just be sure to plan your carpooling accordingly if you plan not to go. It's never fun when someone has to drag the whole car back to the PnR because one person isn't participating in the post-hike reflection & social time when everyone else in that car would like to go (we do have a good time at the dinner, I must say! You will be missing out if you don't go! ).

7:15am: Stone Cup carpoolers... please arrive at the Stone Cup at 7:15am to get your coffee and to figure out who you are riding with to make room for the Westminster carpoolers when we arrive. Goal is that you will have your coffee by the time we arrive at 7:30, & at 7:30a will begin loading up while Westminster people are getting coffee since we will already be loaded up. (We can all do in-depth introductions once we arrive at the parking lot trailhead since we need to be there by 8:45am, and my GPS estimates an hour drive to the trailhead from the Stone Cup). Cars being left behind at the Stone Cup will park on High Street (the street in front of the Stone Cup), and there is no time limit for parking there.

7:30am: Westminster PnR folks arrive at Stone Cup to consolidate carpools with Northern-residing folks, grab coffee, and use restrooms. This will have to be quick as we need to aim to be at the trailhead by 8:45am so that we don't get stuck on the mandatory shuttle service beginning at 9am, so greetings will need to be quick and social time reserved for the car. (I do learn lessons! Inaugural attendees understand what I mean by learning lessons! I aim for no shuttle service and no 1-hr hikes to get to the trailhead this time!) If people are still inside getting coffee, please get your carpools ready and loaded up.

7:45am: Depart promptly from Stone Cup (this means foot on the pedal, not time to load up)

8:45am: arrive at Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Google Map to Glacier Gorge Trailhead: http://goo.gl/maps/7JEyJ

9am: get on trail

Mid-hike: we will stop at The Loch for a snack break

4:30pm (estimated): arrive back to car

5:30pm (estimated): arrive at Oskar Blues (restaurant)

7pm (estimated): leave Oskar Blues

7:45pm (estimated): arrive at Westminster Center Park N Ride

Again, these are estimated times

 

Round-Trip Length:

Approximately 6.2 miles roundtrip – (3.1 miles each way)

Elevation Gain:

Approximately 990' total, with a starting elevation around 9,240'

Start-End Elevation:
9,240' - 10,192' (10,210' max elevation)

Estimated time on the trail: 7.5 hours (allow additional time to gear up / down at car before & after hike)

(6.2 miles at an estimated pace of 1-1.5mph -averaged with stops, especially with water and slow shutter speeds involved. I could personally hike this in 3hrs.. IF I wanted to compete in a sport and not care about what scenery I am missing on the trail, but this is not what the group is about. I started this group for those of us who felt like minorities on the "hike as an Olympic Sport" meetups.)

Skill Level:

Moderate

Dogs Allowed:

No (RMNP doesn't allow it, and leashes pose a risk to expensive camera equipment on tripods)


Trail Description from ProTrails.com:

The Loch - interchangeably referred to as Loch Vale - is accessed from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Loch is fed by streams born from Andrews Glacier (Andrews Creek) and Taylor Glacier (Icy Brook). Visitors will enjoy remarkable views and a lengthy shoreline to explore. (The trail main continues on to Glass Lake, Sky Pond, and Andrews Tarn)

The Loch Vale Trail rises steadily along Glacier Creek through young aspen to Alberta Falls (.85 miles : 9,423'). It reaches the North Longs Peak Trail junction (1.6 miles : 9,768'), banks southwest and flattens through a small gorge between Thatchtop Mountain (12,668') and rock formations called the Glacier Knobs.

The trail drops to Glacier Junction (2.1 miles : 9,804'), a point marking the convergence of two immense glacial valleys with access to several of Rocky Mountain's most renowned destinations.

The trail rises over Icy Brook - a lively stream responsible for the deep gorge below - and steepens on the first of several switchbacks (2.5 miles : 9,985') on the final approach to The Loch (winter travelers need be mindful of this important change of direction).

The forest thins and valley opens dramatically upon reaching The Loch (2.95 miles : 10,192'), where a social trail splits left and the main trail veers right up its north shore. You may circle the lake, or continue on the main trail to its tranquil and less crowded inlet area .4 miles from the initial split.

 

What to bring:

  • plenty of water
  • snacks
  • comfortable clothing (jeans are not recommended)
  • sunscreen
  • rain jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • good hiking shoes
  • camera of your preference
  • hiking poles are always suggested for beginner hikers or those with knee / back issues. Hiking poles with suspension- Bonus! (Target & Walmart sell them. $100 poles from the big outdoor stores are not necessary. Mine were from Walmart for $14 and have suspension springs)
  • gas money for your driver
  • Patience, smiles, positive attitude, and a good time

 

Looking forward to meeting everyone! -Erin

 

I'm really laid back, and everything above that I have mentioned are just more "good practices" rather than rules (such as how to set up your carpooling). But here is where I have to set some rules:

REMEMBER: PLEASE CHECK THE EVENT BY 7PM... IF THERE IS A WAITING LIST, YOU MUST CANCEL EITHER YOUR "YES" OR "WAITING LIST" RSVP BY 8PM FRIDAY, AUGUST 24TH TO "NO" IF YOUR PLANS HAVE CHANGED AND YOU DECIDE NOT TO ATTEND.

IF THERE ISN'T A WAITING LIST: NO WORRIES. PLEASE STILL CANCEL AS SOON AS YOU KNOW THOUGH. IF IT'S AFTER 10PM ON FRIDAY, PLEASE CANCEL ON HERE AS WELL AS SEND ME A TEXT (WITH YOUR NAME) THAT YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO MAKE IT SO THAT I KNOW WE AREN'T WAITING FOR YOU. MY EMAILS ARE SOMETIMES DELAYED ON MY PHONE FOR HOURS, HENCE A TEXT IS BETTER. AGAIN, YOU MUST CANCEL ON HERE AS WELL AS SEND ME A TEXT IF YOU CANCEL AFTER 10PM. AN EMAIL / TEXT CANCELLATION ALONE IS NOT A CANCELLATION. EVERYONE WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL WITH MY PHONE NUMBER BEFORE THE EVENT.

BY RSVPing "YES", YOU ARE AWARE THAT THIS IS A PARTICIPATE AT YOUR OWN RISK EVENT, AND THAT YOU ARE LIABLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY!

Join or login to comment.

  • Erin S.

    What a beautiful day with fun people! Great location pick, James! It was absolutely gorgeous!

    August 26, 2012

  • James B.

    I knew the scenery was awesome, but the hiking companions were great and I enjoyed seeing their expressions, and and hearing their comments. Look forward to seeing their photos!!! Had a great time with them at Oskarblues in Lyons after the hike.

    1 · August 26, 2012

  • Stephen

    Absolutely stunning scenery. Fun group as usual.

    August 26, 2012

  • cheryl

    Beautiful hike, great cadence for capturing the sites, nice, fun group and well organized topped off with a great dinner! Appreciate the time Erin put into pulling it together! ThAnks fellow hikers for a good time.

    1 · August 26, 2012

  • Don B.

    Really a stunning day and hike! Thank YOU Erin!!!

    1 · August 25, 2012

  • cheryl

    Erin, quick question: when you get a minute, can you tell me just high level what kind of food the dinner restaurant has? Is it possible to get vegetables and meat? Thanks!!!

    August 24, 2012

    • Erin S.

      Cheryl, I believe so. Here is their menu: http://www.oskarblues...­
      Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the menu... it'll take you to another page with the menu, then click on it again to see larger. Everyone- I just made reservations for 17 ppl there for tomorrow for an arrival between 5:30-5:45pm.

      August 24, 2012

  • Erin S.

    CBS Denver has named Alberta Falls as one of the Top Places to Rekindle a Romance, so now you'll all know where to take a date after our hike on Saturday! :)
    http://denver.cbslocal.com/top-lists/top-places-for-rekindling-romance-in-denver/

    August 23, 2012

    • James B.

      See photo number 6 on my profile pictures.

      August 23, 2012

  • Erin S.

    FYI regarding Lyons carpool and USA Pro Cycling Challenge going through Lyons: I have contacted the Stone Cup in Lyons, and they have not been made aware that parking on High St. in front of the coffee shop will be affected. So plans to park on High St. in Lyons in front of the Stone Cup will remain unchanged.

    August 23, 2012

    • Erin S.

      *this is for those who plan to meet at the Stone Cup instead of Westminster PnR.

      August 23, 2012

  • cheryl

    Hi Erin, I haven't had time to review all the great questions and comments and wonder if it's okay for me to just meet at the Westminster PnR. I don't have a parks pass and am open to whatever happens during and after the hike as long as i get to capture the beauty with my camera! Is there anything in particular I need to know at this point beyond where to meet? I ask cause I'll be tied up this week and likely won't be following all the posts. ;-) Cheers!

    August 21, 2012

    • Erin S.

      Cheryl,
      Everything to know is in the details above. BUT, due to all the activities in Lyons (USA Pro race & bluegrass festival), I may change some of the carpool locations, etc. I've been on the fence about what to do. I'll be making some phone calls to Oskar Blues and the Stone Cup tomorrow to see if their answers to my questions require some changes. It's always a good practice to check your emails and posts on here for updates the day before the hike, and even sooner if the changes may affect your RSVP status.

      August 21, 2012

  • Joanne E.

    Would it be possible to switch to Sunday, August 26th? That way we would avoid the cycling challenge and the Bluegrass Festival altogether. It might just be simpler. Also, if anyone would like to meet specifically to photograph the cyclists on Saturday they could.

    August 19, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sunday works much better for me. Since the Sat group is so large, maybe a Sunday 2nd group is worth considering. I don't know the area so could not lead it, but would attend Sunday.

      August 19, 2012

    • Erin S.

      I really wish I could! I now work 6 days per week with Saturdays being my only day off :(

      August 19, 2012

  • James B.

    This hike is a very spectacular hike, and I am sure that everyone will be taking many pictures, so rushing the hike to see the cycling by 1:30pm would be difficult. The original timetable of arriving back at our cars is more reasonable. I have been on this hike twice before this summer, and in previous years, and it is well worth taking the time to enjoy it.

    August 19, 2012

  • Erin S.

    August 25th is a big-time eventful day in the areas we will be passing through! I just want to let others know of outside events going on after our hike on this thread in case you want to change your carpool location to the Stone Cup Lyons *AFTER I find out if parking is going to be ok with all the events (and I will update as soon as I find out):

    * USA Pro-Cycling Challenge (those of us on the hike will miss it... I too am disappointed!):
    Near Allenspark on Peak-to-Peak Highway at 1:00-2:00PM
    In Lyons at 1:30-2:30PM
    Start AND Finish is in Boulder.
    For more USAPCC info, go to this link:
    http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/stages/2012/stage-6

    * Kinfolk Festival in Lyons featuring Yonder Mountain String Band will occur after our dinner is over (I'm kinda tempted!)
    http://www.bluegrass.com/kinfolk/schedule.html

    August 19, 2012

    • Clark C.

      The race starts in Golden at 11:10 goes through Boulder around noon and then comes back through Boulder after 2pm to finish on mountain top above Boulder around 3:30. Lyons could be pretty crowded when we get there at 5:30.

      August 19, 2012

    • Erin S.

      Yeah, I know... :( I am gonna do some major strategizing this week!!

      August 19, 2012

  • Erin S.

    Hey Everyone: MAJOR FYI!!!
    It looks like depending on the timing, we may either be impacted or graced with the presence of the racers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on the day of the race. I will look more into it to see if we'll be impacted and will make necessary changes to the itinerary to maybe make our hike a package deal to dual as a hiking / spectator of race day. The route on the 25th goes through Boulder, then Nederland, and down to Lyons. I will look more into it tonight. Especially considering our carpool will be going through Boulder in the AM & PM with stops in Lyons!!

    August 18, 2012

    • Erin S.

      It looks like with our itinerary, we would miss the race. In order to see it, our best chances are @Allenspark where we would need to arrive by 1pm in order to see the race leaders go by at 1:30pm. Or to arrive in Lyons by 1:30pm for a leader passing @2pm. Our plans to park at the Stone Cup may be affected however, & I will still look into that some more.

      I considered trying to get a group rate in Estes Park at the hotel chain where I work for Friday night to start the hike earlier, but if there is anyone wanting to go on this hike coming from Denver / Boulder & not staying in a room, I doubt anyone would want to meet at the PNRs any sooner than already scheduled. That is, except for Mike (aka Perro Bajo) since he arrived at the Westminster PNR one week early! Talk about an eager hiker! ;)

      If anyone likes the idea of the hotel group rate to stay in Estes Park Friday night, please comment on the thread of this segment of the convo, & I will contact the mgr to negotiate a rate.

      August 19, 2012

  • James B.

    Michele, go to RSVP then click on the red RSVP button and you can see the questions.

    August 16, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks. I did answer them originally and provided updates.

      August 16, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hmm I don't remember answering questions when I RSVP'd. Is there a way I can check?

    August 15, 2012

  • James B.

    May Liu, there are only a couple places along the trail that may frighten those who are afraid of heights, and they are about 10 to 15 feet off the trail. They are overlooks of waterfalls.

    August 11, 2012

  • Charles P.

    Sounds like a great hike. Unfortunately, I already have three items penned in for that date and it's coming to decision time. Something has to give!

    August 3, 2012

  • James B.

    On my profile, pictures 9 and 10 are from this hike...click on full size to see how beautiful it is!

    August 3, 2012

  • James B.

    On my profile you can see 3 pictures I have taken on this hike. Photos 4,6,8 were taken this summer. Click on full screen to see them full size.

    August 3, 2012

  • Erin S.

    Please Note: The meeting time at the Westminster Park N Ride is 6:30am, not 7:00am. It was necessary to change this after calculating distances on my GPS and accommodating the extra stop at Stone Cup.

    August 3, 2012

    • Erin S.

      Stone Cup carpoolers neeed to arrive at the Stone Cup by 7:15am

      August 3, 2012

  • Erin S.

    It's good to see some peeps from our inaugural hike signed up! You know who you are! :)

    August 3, 2012

  • Erin S.

    Hey Everyone, I'm about to get this posted as an officially scheduled hike. Just an FYI, on all hikes, RSVPs will be closed until official final details are posted. Once final details are posted, RSVP's will open. Without that method, I receive too many emails with questions as a result of details left out of the description.

    August 3, 2012

  • James Burkett changed the date and time from Monday, September 03, 2012 at 7:00 AM to Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    July 31, 2012

  • James Burkett changed the date and time to Monday, September 03, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    July 26, 2012

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