Timberline Falls is a demanding 8-mile round-trip waterfall hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail takes you past Alberta Falls up into beautiful Loch Vale. Beyond Timberline Falls hikers will find Lake of Glass, additional falls, and breathtaking Sky Pond.
Trail Snapshot: Timberline Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 8 mile RT
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Duration: Approx 5hr
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9240′
- Elevation Gain: +1510′
- Seasons: May-September
- Dogs: Dogs Prohibited
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Timberline Falls
- Denver Drive Time: 2hr
- Driving Directions: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: waterfall, wildlife: elk, deer, marmots; meadows, lakes, streams
- Activities: Hiking, photography
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information
The trail up to Timberline Falls 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 Timberline Falls
The hike up into the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale trail system takes you past one of Rocky Mountain National Parks’ most accessible waterfalls, Alberta Falls.
After the waterfall, the trail begins to wind up a series of switchbacks for just shy of a mile until a trail junction with the NorthLong’s Peak Trail. The trail into Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale then bears right and ascends for about another .5 mile to another trail 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 (fun to say three times fast) but this trip to Timberline Falls takes the middle trail onto the Loch Vale Trail.
The trail continues along the right side of the Loch until another trail junction beyond its western shores and deep in the the lush forest surrounding Icy Brook. The trail up to Timberline Falls, Lake of Glass, and Sky Pond is on the left, and the path to the right will take hikers into the Andrew’s Creek area, one of my favorite areas of the Park. Here the trail up to Timberline Falls gets more steep, working its way up through subalpine forest of fir and spruce, the ground bejeweled with Columbine flowers. Soon you’ll gain views of the falls in the distance.
A series of stone stairs takes you to the base of the waterfall. In the late Spring and Early Summer, the falls cut through the winter snowpack and creates fantastic shapes out of the snow. For hikers who want to see more, a very steep and slick trail can be found to far right side of the waterfall. This leads up to the Lake of Glass, it’s own waterfall, and to Sky Pond.
Video of Timberline Falls in RMNP
Tips & Resources for Hiking Timberline Falls :
- More to Explore: Be sure to budget extra time to explore the lakes above Timberline Falls.
- Parking: If the parking lot is full at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there is a shuttle available to take you to the trailhead. See details at the the top of this trailprofile
- Gear: Wear good boots with soles that are good for grabbing the rock if you plan to scramble up the steep trail to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond.
- Pack a Lunch: This is a long hike and you’ll certainly need water, but you’ll also most likely need fuel for the journey back. Download our hiking guide for a list of great hiking food and snacks.
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- After the Hike: Inkwell & Brew Coffee