The Loch, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
The Loch - 5.9 miles
Glacier Gorge Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.9 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,240' - 10,192' (10,210' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+952' net elevation gain (+1,062' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
The Loch - 5.9 Miles Round-Trip
The Loch (10,192') - variously referred to as Loch Vale - is located 2.95 miles from Glacier Gorge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. It lies at the convergence of valleys carved from Andrews Glacier (north) and Taylor Glacier (south) just below the Continental Divide. The Loch is fed by Icy Brook, which originates from Taylor Glacier and is joined by Andrews Creek from Andrews Glacier.
This moderate hike is ideal for families and maintained for winter travel, making it one of the busier year-round destinations in the Park. Visitors will enjoy excellent fishing and a dramatic alpine backdrop at the lake. The main trail continues on to Lake of Glass, 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 SW 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.
Bear right for the Loch and rise along Icy Brook, a lively stream responsible for the deep gorge below. The trail steepens on several switchbacks (2.5 miles : 9,985') into a thin forest that opens dramatically upon reaching The Loch (2.95 miles : 10,192').
Winter route travelers should pay close attention to this shifty (and slightly different) final approach.
Social trails split left and the main trail veers right up the Loch's north shore. You may circle the lake, or continue on to its tranquil and less-crowded inlet area .4 miles ahead. Here you'll find slow moving oxbows and hidden glades just off-trail.
- N40 18.621 W105 38.419 — Glacier Gorge Trailhead
- N40 18.237 W105 38.289 — .85 miles : Alberta Falls
- N40 17.982 W105 38.391 — 1.6 miles : North Longs Peak Trail junction
- N40 17.842 W105 38.757 — 2.1 miles : Glacier Gorge Junction
- N40 17.664 W105 39.049 — 2.5 miles : Begin final switchbacks to reach The Loch
- N40 17.639 W105 39.270 — 2.95 miles : The Loch
- N40 17.278 W105 39.856 — 3.65 miles : Andrews Glacier Trail junction
- N40 17.393 W105 39.938 — 3.85 miles : Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite spur
- The Loch is a popular winter destination. Note that winter routes may vary based on snow depth and trail conditions near the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, and on the final .5 mile approach to the Loch.
- The main trail continues on to Glass Lake (4.15 miles), Sky Pond (4.5 miles), and Andrews Tarn (4.65 miles) - distances measured from Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
- The Loch sees heavy use year-round. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is the only official backcountry site between the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Sky Pond. It's located along Andrews Creek, approximately .9 miles beyond The Loch.
Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite
- There is only one designated site and one privy at the Andrews Creek Campsite. A maximum of two 4-person tents are allowed.
- The site is located at 10,560' in a spruce-fir stand beside avalanche debris on the east side of Andrews Creek, about .2 miles from the Andrews Glacier Trail split (3.85 miles from Glacier Gorge Trailhead).
- Near the site is a large area of trees downed by an avalanche in the winter of 1985-86. A wood sign indicates the path to the site from the Andrews Glacier Trail; the path is faint but aided by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tent(s) as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees.
- A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years + to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary, however special regulations may exist for each location. It's your responsibility to know and obey them. Regulations may change at anytime. Special restrictions may be put in place above and beyond what's listed here. Contact the Park before your trip for current information.
- Lake Loch and its inlet are catch and release only areas: No bait or worms are allowed in catch-and-release waters.
- Certain waters in the park with restored native fish populations are open year round during daylight hours, except as indicated. Use barbless hooks only. Any and all fish species taken must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
- Method of Capture: Each person shall use only one hand-held rod or line. A 'second rod stamp' is not honored in park waters. Only artificial lures or flies with one (single, double, or treble) hook with a common shank may be used. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices made entirely of, or a combination of, materials such as wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber, designed to attract fish.
- This does not include: (a) any hand malleable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; (b) any device to which scents or smell attractants have been externally applied; (c) molded plastic devices less than 1.5 inches long; (d) foods; (e) traditional organic baits such as worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, minnows, and fish eggs; and (f) manufactured baits such as imitation fish eggs, dough baits, or stink baits. Fly fishers may utilize a two hook system, where one hook is used as an attractant.
- While in possession of any fishing equipment, bait for fishing (insects, fish eggs, minnows, or other organic matter) or worms is prohibited. Children 12 years of age or under, however, may use worms or preserved fish eggs in all park waters open to fishing except those designated as catch-and release areas.
- Use of lead sinkers (or other lead fishing materials) is strongly discouraged.
Rules and Regulations
- A $20 Day Use Fee is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park (or $30 for a 7 Day Pass).
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Horses are not permitted beyond Glacier Gorge Junction.
Directions to Trailhead
Just past the Beaver Meadows entrance station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located on the left side of the road and has limited parking. Additional parking and alternative access can be found at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This will add an additional 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.
Rocky Mountain National Park