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The Loch Vale Snowshoe

Rocky Mountain National Park

Northern Front Range, Colorado

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The Loch Vale Snowshoe

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  • The trail up to Loch Vale. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • Sign at The Loch. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • View of a gray jay in a tree. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • Loch Vale junction sign. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • View along the trail to Loch Vale.. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • View from the switchbacks. - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • The trail to Loch Vale.- The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • Snowshoeing to Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park.- The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • View of the trail approaching Lock Vale.- The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • Loch Vale in Rocky Mountain National Park.- The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • Backside view from switchbacks.- The Loch Vale Snowshoe
  • - The Loch Vale Snowshoe
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Fantastic views. Quiet.
Cons: 
Winter exposure. Limited parking.
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Region:
Northern Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,026.00 ft (312.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
6.20 mi (9.98 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,186.00 ft (2,799.89 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

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. 

Backcountry Safety

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.

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Field Guide + Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(21 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(87 within a 30 mile radius)

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