Alberta Falls, The Loch, Timberline Falls, Lake of Glass, Sky Pond

Alberta Falls/The Loch/Timberline Falls/Lake of Glass/Sky Pond (Rocky Mountain National Park)

  • Glacier Gorge Trailhead – arrive early, as Alberta Falls will draw a large crowd any day of the week
  • 9.0 miles round trip
  • Apprx 6 hr hike
  • Strenuous snowshoe trip, likely a moderate hike if no snow
  • +1,677′ net elevation gain to Sky Pond (10,887′), +1,598′ net elevation gain to Lake of Glass (10,808′)
    • Despite the elevation gain, it is relatively spread out over the 4 miles save for the very final ascent.  You won’t really notice the elevation gain, it is the distance that you’ll notice first.
  • If attempted before June, it’ll be a snowshoeing trip.
    • My friend and I attempted it 5/17/15
  • Equipment:
    • sunblock (the reflection off the snow will burn you like you wouldn’t believe)
    • snowshoes (required to reach Lake of Glass and Sky Pond before June, perhaps even well into June)
    • microspikes (make going back down the hard-packed snow trail much simpler, almost the entire hike will be hard snow-packed)
    • avalanche beacon (if you have one, I would use it, or go rent one.  While the final ascent was avalanche prone, it wouldn’t have been able to bury you because it wouldn’t be able to drop much snow in a slide.)
      • ALWAYS know how to identify avalanche terrain, how to choose the best line, and what to do if you get caught in an avalanche!
    • tech shell (if it is half as windy as when I went, you will want a strong shell to protect you from the wind)
    • waterproof pants (after reaching Lake of Glass, you will want to slide down the hill rather than walk it because of how steep it is.  My friend and I (as well as the couple from Michigan) found ourselves just sitting and “sledding” down the hill all the way to the bottom.  It was super fun and saved us a ton of effort!)

This makes for an amazing snowshoe trek.  While I am sure it is greener and prettier in the summer, I found this to be a very fun snowshoe trail for the summer.

This is at the famous Alberta Falls, found just shy of a mile into our hike.  Don't stop here!  Get some water in you and keep trekking on to the good stuff!
This is at the famous Alberta Falls, found just shy of a mile into our hike.  Don’t stop here!  Get some water in you and keep trekking on to the good stuff!

Reaching “The Loch” is not too difficult of a hike, but once you commit to Lake of Glass, you will find yourself going up a very steep gully that’ll be loose snow.  My friend and I were blazing our own trail once we made it to The Loch.

While I don't have any pictures, we considered pulling out our snowshoes to ascend to the lake.  This lake was in a beautiful spot with the peaks around it just dusted with snow!
While I don’t have any pictures, we considered pulling out our snowshoes to ascend to the lake. This lake was in a beautiful spot with the peaks around it just dusted with snow!  This lake is just under 3 miles into the hike.

We met a nice couple from Michigan who were without snowshoes, so we blazed a trail for them that they could manage.  As we approached the final ascent to Lake of Glass, we were forced up a very steep hill which was avalanche prone.

This shot captures the steep hill we had to conquer to get to Lake of Glass at the top.  It looks pretty daunting even from a distance... We decided that just right of that rock and tree structure was best.
This shot captures the steep hill we had to conquer to get to Lake of Glass at the top. It looks pretty daunting even from a distance… We decided that just right of that rock and tree structure was best.  This shot marks about 3.25 miles into the hike.

I started creating switchbacks on the side of the hill where there were natural obstacles to hold the snow better.

This is a closer view of the smaller hill and then the larger hill behind.  Uncut and very steep.  While short, at the end of a hike, you'll feel every step of this ascent!  This shot marks about 4 miles into the hike.
This is a closer view of the smaller hill and then the larger hill behind. Uncut and very steep. While short, at the end of a hike, you’ll feel every step of this ascent! This shot marks about 4 miles into the hike.

Once we took the ridge, we found ourselves facing 50-60 mph winds with snow, right into our faces.  We took some pictures of the very snow covered lake and abandoned tackling yet another hill to reach Sky Pond (the wind was too unbearable, it would have blown us off of the hill, which was even steeper than the exhausting hill we just defeated).

Behind us is the very frozen over Lake of Glass (or what we figured was the lake, it was very hard to tell).  We predicted that behind that VERY steep hill behind us was Sky Pond!  That would have been at 4.5 miles into the hike, but it was far too windy to attempt!
Behind us is the very frozen over Lake of Glass (or what we figured was the lake, it was very hard to tell). We predicted that behind that VERY steep hill behind us was Sky Pond! That would have been at 4.5 miles into the hike, but it was far too windy to attempt!

Needless to say that the lake was very peaceful (minus the wind) and the hike was very pretty.  At the Lake of Glass, we had a view back down the valley for miles.

This is a shot once we took the ridge of Lake of Glass.  This overlooks the valley we hiked up to get here!  This is at just over 4 miles into the hike.
This is a shot once we took the ridge of Lake of Glass. This overlooks the valley we hiked up to get here! This is at just over 4 miles into the hike.

I plan to attempt this hike again this week and hopefully wind won’t stop me from reaching Sky Pond!

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