Driving approximately 30 miles roundtrip; about 1/2 hour each way. Hiking between 5 and 10 miles roundtrip depending on group interest and ability; 5-6 hours; well maintained but rocky trail with steep inclines and descents. Bear Lake trailhead elevation is about 9,275 feet; elevation gain/loss of approximately 1,720 feet; maximum elevation of roughly 10,500 feet. Glacier Gorge to the Loch is about 3 miles one way with approximately 1,000-foot gain in elevation.
At a local restaurant, we’ll order plated meals from the menu, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water included.
We depart by van from the motel very early each morning. Our mornings start very early to allow an "alpine start" for safety and to allow mid-afternoon returns to avoid thunder showers. Loch Vale-Glacier Basin is one of the most beautiful and most popular hikes in the park. We’ll start at the Bear Lake trailhead and along the hike, we will first see Alberta Falls, the most photographed falls in the park. It was named after an Estes Park pioneer, Abner Sprague’s wife. Loch Vale is a crystal-clear alpine lake, which was named after a guest in Sprague’s lodge named Locke. It was changed to Loch, the Scottish name for lake. The broad cliff at the Loch is Cathedral Wall, a favorite for rock climbers.
At a pleasant stopping point along the trail, we’ll have boxed lunches featuring a pre-selected sandwich, chips, fruit, and dessert.
We’ll continue our morning hike and return to the trailhead in the mid-afternoon. En route to Estes Park, we’ll then stop at the Visitor's Center for a rest stop and an opportunity to independently explore the exhibits. Will we return to the hotel before dinner.
At a local restaurant, we’ll order plated meals from the menu with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.