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National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for RMNP contains detailed topographic information, clearly marked trails, recreational points of interest & navigational aids.

estes park hikes
Best Estes Park Hikes offers details on 20 hikes near Estes Park, from short and scenic, to challenging adventures, including the 11,428-foot summit of Twin Sisters Peak.

The Loch

Trail Features: Outstanding Lake Views, Waterfalls the loch
Trail Location: Glacier Gorge
Roundtrip Length: 5.7 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 9240 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1040 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 367 Feet
Highest Elevation: 10,190 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 7.74 (moderate)
Parking Lot Latitude 40.31035
Parking Lot Longitude -105.64038

Trail Description:

The hike to The Loch begins from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, located on Bear Lake Road almost 8 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. Due to the extreme popularity of the Bear Lake Road area you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to access the trailhead during peak tourist season.

Roughly one-quarter of a mile from the parking area, just after crossing Chaos Creek, the trail briefly converges with the Glacier Creek Trail. After walking a very short distance the Glacier Creek Trail splits off to the right and heads toward Bear Lake. To continue on towards The Loch hikers should turn left at this junction.

alberta-fallsAt just over eight-tenths of a mile hikers will reach Alberta Falls, one of the more popular hiking destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park. This scenic 30-foot waterfall thunders down a small gorge on Glacier Creek, and is named after Alberta Sprague, the wife of Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area.

The next section of trail, between Alberta Falls and Mills Junction, was rehabilitated by the National Park Service and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy as part of a major, multi-year project that was completed in 2012.

At 1.6 miles hikers will arrive at the North Longs Peak Trail junction. To continue on towards your destination hikers should turn right here.

About a half-mile further up the trail you'll reach Mills Junction. The trail to the left leads to Mills Lake and Black Lake, while the side trail to the right leads to Lake Haiyaha. As part of the same trail rehabilitation project, this unimproved route was also upgraded in an effort to make it safer and easier to follow as it travels towards the lake.

the lochTo continue on towards The Loch hikers should proceed straight ahead onto the Loch Vale Trail.

Above the junction the route becomes quite steep as it climbs over a couple of short switchbacks through a fairly impressive gorge, while Icy Brook cascades down the valley on your left. On the third switchback you'll reach a vantage point that offers a nice view of a waterfall tumbling down the gorge.

At roughly 2.8 miles hikers will reach Loch Vale, better known as The Loch. This beautiful subalpine lake, situated at 10,190 feet, is located within one of the most studied watersheds in the world. For more than twenty years scientists have monitored chemical inputs to the watershed, from wind and precipitation, in order to distinguish between human impacts and natural processes occurring in this environment.

Dominating the views directly across from the foot of the lake is 13,153-foot Taylor Peak and Taylor Glacier. Framing the spectacular gorge on either side is 12,668-foot Thatchtop Mountain towards the south, and 12,829-foot The Sharkstooth towards the southwest. If you were to proceed around to the north side of the lake, 13,208-foot Powell Peak will begin to reveal itself towards the south.

the loch

the loch

In case you're wondering, the word "Loch" is the Scottish Gaelic and Irish term for a lake or a sea inlet.

If you wish to explore more of the terrain in this part of the park, you'll have the option of continuing up to Timberline Falls, Sky Pond or even Andrews Tarn.