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Trip Details

Date Saturday  2/22/2020
End Date
Group Shining Mountains
Event Title Black Lake & Above (RMNP)
Start Time 7:30 AM
Status Complete
Leader Pete Langer
Member Price Free
Non-member Price Free
Available Participants 2
Type Trip
Trip Type Snowshoe
Classification Moderate C
Trail Mileage 11.5
Elevation Gain 1950
Driving Distance


Our snowshoe hike today is a winter classic - Black Lake (and above) in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Very little of our route will be on the standard summer trail so join us for this unique winter (snowshoes required) outing.  We will meet at 7:30 AM in the lower level of the Estes Park Visitor Center Parking Garage and carpool from there to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (where parking is limited hence the early meet).  The parking garage is the new 3-story structure as you come into Estes Park on Hwy 36.  It is after the Hwys 36/7 stoplight and before the main stoplight at Hwys 34/36.  The address is 645 CO-7 (St. Vrain Ave.).  There are bathrooms inside the EP Visitor Center across the footbridge over the river.  There are also toilets at the trailhead.  A Park Pass will be required for each vehicle we take into the Park so, if you have one, please bring it.

For more info Contact

Contact your trip leader, Pete Langer, at or voice at 970-227-3614.


Our snowshoe hike today is a winter classic - Black Lake (and above) in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Black Lake is set in a deep well of vertical rock surrounded by Arrowhead and McHenrys Peak both of which seem (and, I guess, do) rise right out of the lake.  But perhaps the most impressive features at this time of year are the enormous blue-ice formations that spill over the rock walls like the frozen waterfalls that they are.  Of special note, our route above Jewel Lake will be through the Black Lake drainage which can only be done in winter.  If you have never been to Black Lake or have only been there using the twisting, tree-dodging summer trail, you are in for a visual treat on this winter route.  From Black Lake, our intent is to continue (quite steeply) up its inflow creek into the Upper Glacier Gorge to a rock outcrop where, weather permitting, we will stop for lunch in an incredibly scenic setting.  Longs Peak, Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda, McHenrys, The Stoneman, the sheer face of Spearhead gleaming in the sun, and even the distant Mummy Range will be our companions.

From our meeting point at the Estes Park Visitor Center Parking Garage, we will carpool to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.  We will take the "winter trail" to the Loch/Mills Junction then continue to Mills Lake using the Glacier Creek drainage for our final quarter mile.  We will cross Mills Lake and Jewel Lake then continue up the Black Lake outflow creek which will require a slow climb up Ribbon Falls followed by another slow ascent up the headwall to Black Lake.  After a rest, we will make the final 500' ascent on a wide, safe snow slope into the Upper Glacier Gorge.  Though long for a snowshoe hike, this route has occasional moderate hill climbs broken up by sections of flat terrain.

We will return the way we came utilizing the seat of our pants when possible for some of the steeper descents.  Though much of the route will likely be on packed trail, you must bring snowshoes!  Also recommended are shoe traction devices like MicroSpikesIt may be quite windy and cold crossing Mills Lake so goggles and a balaclava are also recommended.  I expect this hike to take about 7+ hours TH to TH.  Our pace will be casually comfortable but we will not be dawdling.  This is a long day on snowshoes - be sure you are up to it.



Snowshoes will be required.  MicroSpikes, gaiters, trekking poles, goggles, balaclava, and snow pants will be extremely helpful and should also be brought.  Conditions are often very windy crossing Mills Lake - be prepared.  Please practice attaching your snowshoes to your pack as well as securely fastening them to your feet!  I will keep the group posted on trail conditions and forecasted weather as we get closer to the hike date.  I will not be coordinating the carpooling to Estes Park.  A week prior to the hike, a roster containing your name, town, email, and cell phone will be sent out to all participants on the roster for the purpose of arranging carpooling among yourselves.  By signing up for this hike, you consent to this sharing.  Please arrive at the meeting site either on-time or early so that we can get under way as quickly as possible.  Text me or call (970-227-3614) if you are running late.  If you have a National Parks Pass, please bring it.


Sorry it is past the registration deadline for this event.