If lakes are your favorite destination, then the hike to The Loch should be added to your trail list in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a moderately difficult hike on the eastern side of the park where you can hike along the edge of the lake, fish for trout, or come early in the morning to photograph the iconic scenery in Loch Vale. Explore the full trail profile below for driving directions to the trailhead, trail map, and other destinations that can be added to the hike.
Trail Snapshot: The Loch in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 5.5+ mile Round Trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: Approx 3hr Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9240′ at Trailhead
- Elevation Gain: Approx +1000′
- Seasons: June-September
- Dogs: Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of The Loch
- Denver Drive Time: 2 hr
- Driving Directions to Glacier Gorge Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Lake, wildflowers, waterfall, wildlife: elk, deer, birds
- Activities: Hiking, fishing, photography
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information
The trail to the Loch, and the destinations beyond, begins at either the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (see driving directions above), or at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions). Because the Glacier Gorge Trailhead has a much smaller lot, you may need to drive further up to Bear Lake. There you’ll find a short connector trail that will put you on the path down and over to the Glacier Gorge Trail system. In the event that parking at Bear Lake is full, you’ll then need to park at the Park & Ride near the Bierstadt Trailhead and take the bus into the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link.
The Hike to The Loch
The first destination that you can’t and don’t want to miss is at .8 miles, Alberta Falls (photo above). The trail then climbs toward an eventual trail junction. The way to the Loch is to follow the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale trail that bears right and ascends for about another .5 mile to another trail junction. At this second junction the trail to the left will take hikers to Glacier Gorge, and the trail to the right takes hikers on a jaunt to Lake Haiyaha. The middle trail leads onto the Loch Vale Trail, and up to the Loch.
List and Links of Destinations Along the Loch Vale Trail
Tips & Resources for Hiking to the Loch in RMNP:
- Hike Further: Be sure to hike and additional approx 1.25 mile (one-way) to Timberline Falls to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Get There Early: There are two important reasons to begin your hikes early in the morning in Rocky Mountain National 1)The trail head parking lots fill up early, and 2) in the Summer months, thunderstorms will form in the early afternoon.
- Parking: If the parking lot is full at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there is a shuttle available to take you to the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link.
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Recommended Map for Rocky Mountain National Park: The trail maps provided by Rocky Mountain National Park are usually sufficient. However, if you plan to hike RMNP often, we recommend purchasing a National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- After the Hike: Inkwell Brew Coffee
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions