Hiking Project Logo

blue Loch Vale

  4.7 ( 44 )

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

Trail

6.0 mile 9.7 kilometer loop
Singletrack
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,088' 332 m
Descent: -1,095' -334 m
High: 10,212' 3,113 m
Low: 9,129' 2,783 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Brian Smith

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

Weather

Getting forecast...

Current trail conditions

Minor Issues 4 days ago See History
Snowy, Icy: Mostly packed snow but there were powder snow around the lake.

Popular hikes nearby

Hiked this trail?

Add details to help others plan their adventure.

One of RMNP's premier hikes featuring some of the park's biggest draws.

Brian Smith

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

Family Friendly Although the youngsters might not make it all the way to the Loch, a trip to Alberta Falls (just under one mile from the TH) is easily accessible.

Overview

Prepare for a visually stimulating hike as you set out to the Loch. This one has it all: waterfalls, stunning alpine terrain and picturesque glacial tarns.

Need to Know

This route begins at the Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead but could easily be done from the Bear Lake trailhead with a minimal increase in total milage. This is a very popular section of the park - set out early to avoid the crowds.

Description

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. After taking a moment (or many moments) to appreciate the power of Alberts Falls continue ascending on the Loch Vale Trail 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 contours 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.

As you go further along the Loch Vale Trail past this junction, 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.

This is the turnaround point for this hike, but you can continue past the Loch to Sky Pond for extra credit. See the description for the Loch Vale Trail for more detail.

Flora & Fauna

This hike 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

Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In

Check-Ins

Apr 14, 2019
Yoshiyuki Takahashi
5.5mi — 4h 30m
Apr 2, 2019
Philip Piediscalzo
When all the rest of the park was clear sky's, this area was approaching white out conditions 6mi
Mar 17, 2019
Maria Ais
Feb 9, 2019
Amy Nguyen
6mi
Jan 27, 2019
Clancey Potter
Would have been a nice hike if it weren't windy AF! Limited visibility. Could barely stand up at the lake. 6mi
Dec 14, 2018
Cynthia B.
Dec 3, 2018
Emily Den Boer
6mi
Nov 10, 2018
Jenee' Saunders

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 44 votes

#4

in Bear Lake

#96

Overall
  4.7 from 44 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
23%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#4

in Bear Lake

#31

in Colorado

#96

Overall
75 Views Last Month
4,060 Since Feb 3, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

0%
17%
67%
17%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking