Looking down towards Black Lake. Lots of snow for...
The west slope of Long's Peak drops 3000 feet into a rugged basin at the head of Glacier Gorge known as the Black Lake Cirque. Some of the most impressive walls and spires in Rocky Mountain National Park are found here towering above fields of wild flowers, ice-scoured slabs and jewel-like lakes comprising an alpine paradise of exceptional beauty (except for the mosquitoes). The rim of Glacier Gorge is formed by Half Mountain, Storm Peak and Long's Peak on the east; Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mountain and Chief's Head Peak on the south; and by McHenry's Peak, Powell Peak and Thatchtop Mountain on the west. Spearhead and Arrowhead are satellite or island peaks within the rim of the gorge.
Begin from the Glacier Gorge Bus Stop (Trailhead) and follow the Glacier Gorge Trail to Black Lake. A useful shortcut branches right from the main trail just after the 4th stream crossing (about .55 mile) and regains the main trail just east of the Loch Vale Junction. As soon as you cross the log bridge over Icy Brook, you are in Glacier Gorge. This great trail continues to Mills Lake, Jewel Lake and eventually to Black Lake. From Black Lake the trail climbs along a beautiful cascade SE into the basin above Black Lake. From here, cairns indicate the line of least resistance into the upper cirque.
There is also a steep path that leads to Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. This trail (never built) breaks right from the Glacier Gorge Trail after about 4 miles in some old avalanche debris. Cross Glacier Creek on large flat boulders and the find the start to the trail in the trees. This is less than obvious.
Weather station 7.3 miles from here
56 Total Routes
['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',22],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Glacier Gorge
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Glacier Gorge:
Featured Route For Glacier Gorge
Crescent Ridge 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
: Alpine Rock
: ... : Pagoda Mountain
The climb consists of an initial technical buttress followed by a long, 3rd-class ridge and a final, tricky headwall. Climb the beautiful, clean buttress staying close to the ridge for three or four moderate pitches, following knobs and crack systems. The easiest route may venture to the east or west side for brief periods but always returns to the ridge. Most of the climbing is 5.4 or easier. The 5.5-5.6 crux is near the top of the fourth pitch, just before topping out on the initial buttre...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
Local Information for Glacier Gorge
Latest Regional Forum Messages
Lots of rock to choose from in the Gorge.
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 14, 2012
Per the RMNP Backcountry Office, they finished chainsawing a trail through the deadfall on Glacier Gorge Trail two days ago. Looks like GG is open again!
By Rich Farnham
Aug 15, 2011
There is a very new-looking bridge on the hike into Spearhead. I didn't really pay attention to where it was, but near Mills Lake seems about right. We had no problem hiking into the cirque, so I'd assume that the bridge problem Ross describes has been fixed.