- 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 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
Approximately 6.2 miles roundtrip – (3.1 miles each way)
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.)
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
- comfortable clothing (jeans are not recommended)
- rain jacket
- 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!