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Trip Details

Date Saturday  2/8/2020
End Date
Group Shining Mountains
Event Title South Glacier Knob Loop (RMNP)
Start Time 8:45 AM
Status Complete
Leader Pete Langer
Member Price Free
Non-member Price Free
Available Participants Full- Join Waitlist
Waitlist Participants 3
Type Trip
Trip Type Snowshoe
Pace Casual
Classification Moderate B
Trail Mileage 6.0
Elevation Gain 1200
Driving Distance


Our hike will be to the summit of the "South Glacier Knob" above Mills Lake (and below Half Mountain) in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  This will be a mostly off-trail loop hike (snowshoes required) with a (really fun) return to the trailhead via a descent of the frozen Glacier Creek.  This is "the best" intermediate-level snowshoe hike in RMNP - no kidding!  We will meet at 8:45 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).  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 text or voice at 970-227-3614.


Our hike today will be a loop hike to the summit of the "South Glacier Knob".  This is a rock dome above Mills Lake and is connected to Half Mountain by a ridge.  The highest of the three highpoints that comprise this glacier knob is visible from the Glacier Gorge TH parking lot.  It is the bump on the horizon between Half Mountain and Thatchtop.  However, the summit is not our only objective.  Our descent route down Glacier Creek from its outflow point at Mills Lake is just plain fun!  Our pace will be comfortable to all participants.  We'll take the few steep segments slowly.  The trailhead to trailhead time will be about 6 hours.

From our meeting point at the Estes Park Visitor Center Parking Garage, we will carpool to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead.  We will take the standard summer trail (because it is scenic) to the Loch/Mills junction and continue on to Mills Lake.  The South Glacier Knob will be immediately above us to our left.  After a brief rest we will begin the ascent of the Knob.  Initially we will be on open terrain with some well-placed vantage points that look out high over Mills Lake.  Eventually we will work our way into denser, steeper terrain that we will take to the top.  We should be able to wear our snowshoes to the summit.  There is an excellent lunch spot up here that we will take advantage of.  The views up Glacier Gorge are spectacular and are somewhat unique as the whole of the gorge is visible.  We will descend a slightly different route on steep but not as rocky terrain.

Once back at Mills Lake, we will exit the lake on its outflow creek, Glacier Creek.  We will drop over one large unnamed waterfall then over steep Glacier Falls (neither is visible from the summer trail) and continue down the Glacier Creek drainage passing the bridge at the North Longs Peak Trail.  We will continue down the drainage over a blue-ice wonder unofficially known as "Roberta Falls" and make our way to Alberta Falls which, like the other waterfalls, we will descend on the seat of our pants (always optional).  Our first possible exit point will be about 100 yards below Alberta Falls at "the log jam".  However, if sufficient snowfall has covered the rocks in the lower drainage (highly likely for this date), we will continue to the bridge on the Glacier Creek Trail.  We will take that trail back to the Glacier Gorge TH thereby completing the loop.  It will be a memorable outing!


Snowshoes will be required.  MicroSpikes, gaiters, trekking poles, goggles, balaclava, and snow pants will be extremely helpful and should be brought.  We, at times, will be walking on thin ice and the possibility of breaking through and stepping into the running water is real.  Bringing a spare pair of socks is recommended.  Conditions are often windy at Mills Lake and on the summit of the knob - be prepared!  The ascent of the South Glacier Knob as well as the descent in Glacier Creek will be off trail, probably not packed, and is quite often in very deep snow.  Hidden obstacles (branches, rocks, tree wells) do exist and care must be taken.  We may be carrying the snowshoes at times so 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 number 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.