Elevation: 8,787 ft - 10,220ft
Elevation Gain: 1,433 ft
Critters: Stellar's Jay
Loch Vale is a classic hike in Rocky Mountain National Park that many visitors do on their summer vacations. It is relatively easy, has interesting milestones along the way, and ends at a spectacular lake. It is suitable for beginning hikers.
snowshoed to Loch Vale many times but have not hiked it in the summer in a while and never as a destination in and of itself. Usually, it is just a milestone on the way to Sky Pond. On this trip, I had a friend visiting on a short Colorado vacation and this was a perfect trail for her.
Mills Lake and Lake Haiyaha. From this point, the trail heads up a series of switchbacks with views of the gorge (see winter route) . The switchbacks are not long or arduous. At the top is Loch Vale. There is a trail that circumnavigates the lake and lots of "beaches", rocks, and peninsulas to lounge on.
Stellar's Jay kept us company and ogled our sandwiches.
If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, add this trail to your list. It won't disappoint. Add one mile to your trip and visit Mills Lake on the way back. From the LochVale/Mills trail junction it is a short 0.5 miles and minimal elevation gain to Mills.
Wind blown Bristlecone Pines on a peninsula jutting out into the lake