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Loch Vale Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (33)

A wondrous trail that leads past some of RMNP's premier attractions.


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Map Key

4.1

Miles

6.5

KM

Point to Point

11,067' 3,373 m

High

9,271' 2,826 m

Low

2,034' 620 m

Up

316' 96 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

65%

Max Grade (33°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Description

Access this trail from either the Glacier Gorge Trailhead or the Bear Lake Trailhead. The Loch Vale Trail heads south and starts to ascend as it passes the Glacier Creek Trail on the left and the Loch Vale - Glacier Knobs Trail on the right shortly thereafter.

As you hike, take in the scenery of the beautiful pine forest and prepare yourself for Alberta Falls, which are located at the 3/4 mile mark. Continuing past the falls, the trail keeps climbing for another mile, past an intersection with North Longs Peak Trail to an eventual junction at Glacier Knobs.

Continue on Loch Vale Trail as it switchbacks gradually uphill on the western slope of the Glacier Creek drainage. Eventually, the trail will contour around the southern shoulder of the East Glacier Knob and then drop to a junction with Lake Haiyaha Trail and Mills Lake - Black Lake Trail.

Continue hiking along the Loch Vale Trail past this junction and prepare for drastically steepening grades over the next half mile. As the grade levels off again, the Loch will come into view along with some of the most amazing scenery in the park. Loch Vale, which translates to Lake Valley, is a splendid sight to see. Set in a rugged valley, the Loch is a reflecting pool of sorts that amplifies the majesty of the surrounding peaks and granite towers.

Continuing past the Loch, you'll be on your way to Sky Pond. A little under a mile past the Loch, you'll come to a junction with the Andrews Glacier Trail, which leads up to Andrews Tarn and, of course, the glacier. Continue for roughly 0.75 miles past this junction if you are bound for Sky Pond.

Sky Pond is one of the most majestic glacial tarns in the whole park, making it one of the most desirable destinations. Set into an even more staggering cut in the mountains, Sky Pond is a great location to take in the views of The Sharkstooth - a ridge top vertical rock spire to the northeast of Otis Peak.

Flora & Fauna

This trail leads from a riparian (wetland) ecosystem where lush plant life and dense wildlife are the hallmarks. Given the ascending nature of this trail, you will transition into a montane ecosystem.

Forests of pine and grassy hillsides dominate the montane ecosystem in the park. These areas may be drier than riparian areas but life still abounds. Look for critters leaping or creeping from tree to tree or poking their heads from underground.

As you gain elevation, you leave the montane areas and enter the subalpine ecosystem. The bent and gnarled bodies of spruce and fir trees tell the story of hard summers and harder winters near the mountain tops.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 33 votes

#5

in Bear Lake

#86

Overall
  4.6 from 33 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
30%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#5

in Bear Lake

#24

in Colorado

#86

Overall
61 Views Last Month
6,883 Since Jan 8, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
44%
20%
36%
0%

Photos

The glorious view that greets you once you near Sky Pond.
Nov 9, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
The Loch, Rocky Mountain NP CO
Jan 15, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
Alberta Falls
May 2, 2018 near Estes Park, CO
The Loch lake
Jan 28, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
The view of the gorge will knock you off your feet
Nov 28, 2015 near Estes Park, CO
North towards Andrews Glacier from the shore of Loch Lake.
Oct 1, 2019 near Grand Lake, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 9 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 21, 2021
Mary Catherine Brady
Jun 23, 2021
K K
1h 00m
Apr 4, 2021
Donald Blake
First broken bone I've ever gotten came from the steep section before the lake. Great trail with great views and totally worth the pain.
Dec 26, 2020
Liz Rogers
4.1mi
Dec 8, 2020
Emily Schwickerath
Dec 7, 2020
Zachary Wemark
Long, windy trail. Definitely worth the view, though.
Sep 9, 2020
Son S
Aug 7, 2020
Carlos Fernández Prieto
The snowy landscape at The Loch is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The snow made it difficult for us to get to the top, and we stopped… 4.1mi