From Glacier Gorge Trailhead, follow the well-traveled path as it winds through a thick pine and fir forest with shivering aspens. Pass the crowds gathered at Alberta Falls (mile 0.6) and climb around boulders to a rocky point above the canyon formed by Glacier Creek. To the north, craggy peaks guard the mouths of Glacier Gorge and Loch Vale.
Enjoy a downhill stretch to the junction for Mills Lake and Loch Vale. Stay right and switchback up to the Loch, a gorgeous tarn with a backdrop of jagged peaks at mile 2.5. Pass the Loch on the northwest side as you continue the gradual climb south up Loch Vale. A half a mile above the Loch’s shores, Cathedral Wall rises to your right; pause and search for climbers high on this popular crag.
Timberline Falls rushes below Lake of Glass, and reaching the lake requires a fun scramble up wet (or icy) rocks on its far west side. Top out the climb on the windy aquamarine shores of Lake of Glass, then look for cairns to the right that reveal an easy scramble to a trail on rock through krummholz—stunted, twisted fir and spruce trees—above the lake’s western shore.
The Cathedral Spires dominate the skyline at Sky Pond. Find a comfy rock and kick back, have a snack, and break out the binoculars to spy on climbers on the Sharkstooth, Petit Grepon, and Saber (left to right).
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm
CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo
-Mapped by Jenn Fields