Located in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, the trek up to Loch Vale serves as a great snowshoeing experience for beginners. Also accessible to cross-country skiers, the snow-packed trail begins with a gradual ascent, providing a solid warm up as you make your way to the frozen waters of Alberta Falls.
As a popular destination in warmer months, the area is noticeably calmer in winter, but it is no less majestic. The absence of the roaring falls provides an air of tranquility where gray jays sit quietly in the branches of thick pines that line the trail.
After a series of short, steep switchbacks, windblown snow banks give way to The Loch. This area is the subject of frequent testing and close observation as authorities attempt to measure human impacts on the watershed. Framed by snow-crusted peaks, the frozen surface of the heavily studied lake is often solid enough to support a walk across the ice, but be cautious as you explore.
At over 10,000 feet, The Loch is completely exposed to winter elements, particularly wind. For those seeking to spend time to take in the beautiful scenery, be sure to expect an unforgiving climate upon arrival. Regardless of the harsh conditions at the summit, snowshoeing to The Loch in the dead of winter is an incredibly peaceful and rewarding experience.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.