The drive up was mellow, and it was pleasant to start a bit later. We did briefly get stuck in the Bear Lake Road construction, but were soon able to follow a spotter vehicle up the road.
We started off from the trailhead a little after 730am on October 24. Our ultimate goal for the day was Black Lake, but we decided if we felt good, my leg felt good, and the weather held (this was the day during/before our first winter storm of the year), we might hit some of the others.
Early morning on the Glacier Gorge trail.
Soon we reached Alberta Falls. As Lisa Foster says, "This is a good hike for children and anyone desiring a short, rewarding hike in RMNP." And I have hiked here before with my parents from Bear Lake on the advice of a park ranger.
Low clouds in the early morning and throughout the day made from some impressive looking photos.
We passed through an area that must've seen a high wind event at some point in the past year. As always, it was amazing to see these huge trees snapped like toothpicks and torn out of the ground like blades of grass.
Just look at it! That is one sexy lake!
Our destination was farther on, higher up. Into the clouds we headed.
Next up was Black Lake. This is a pretty cool sub-alpine lake (10620 ft.) and at 4.9 miles each way, entirely reasonable for a higher elevation but shorter hike in RMNP.
Once we gained the drainage above Black Lake the trail became harder to see, and not as well marked. There was a bit of snow which didn't help. And a wealth of cairns, many of which appeared to lead to nowhere. It may very well be easier to find your way in the summer months, but outside of that, it is still easy to find your way.
The Spearhead is the large triangular shaped tower in front of Chiefs Head. Simply find your way to its right to get to Frozen Lake, or to the left to get to Green Lake.
Chiefs Head Peak.
From Frozen Lake we decided to make our way around The Spearhead and drop down to Green Lake. Actually we thought we wouldn't have to drop down, and stayed fairly high around the bottom of the cliff face, only to discover a descent awaiting us on the other side.
I was just awe struck with the supreme alpine beauty of this bowl. It is a must hike in my opinion. Here are a bunch of pictures.
We did this hike on October 24, which was the night we got our first snow of the season. The lower clouds rolling in here made for some awesome photos and light snow.
We decided rather than go down and attempt to find a trail, we would try to head directly towards Blue Lake and maintain a constant elevation. This worked pretty well.
Clouds we starting to blow up into the Gorge before reaching a certain elevation and swirling up into nothingness. It was very pretty.
We stopped to eat lunch behind a wind block slightly north of the lake. The swirling clouds continued to amaze and delight us, making each moment a photograph.
Of course, from here on out the hiking was rather easy and all downhill. We took the Fire Trail back to the trail head, which cuts a little distance off the hike.
This was a rather fun hike! Great views abound, and though you do go above treeline, you start higher when compared to Wild Basin. Movement at elevation is no less difficult, but it takes less time to get there.
The views from the bowl around Green Lake are spectacular, and this would put it high on my list of best places to be in RMNP.
The high lakes of Glacier Gorge:
Mills Lake (9940 ft): 2.7 miles one way, 760 foot gain. Moderate.
Black Lake (10620 ft): 4.9 miles one way, 1440 foot gain. Moderate+.
Frozen Lake (11580 ft): 6.1 miles one way, 2400 foot gain. Strenuous-.
Green Lake (11540 ft): 6 miles one way, 2360 foot gain. Strenuous-.
Blue Lake (11140 ft): 5.5 miles one way, 1960 foot gain. Strenuous-.