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.
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Glacier Gorge:
Featured Route For Glacier Gorge
Shelf Cirque Traverse Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Shelf Cirque
This has 4 summits, excellent exposure, tremendous views, and some climbing. Start at Solitude Lake. Climb Arrowhead. Traverse west on the McHenry's-Arrowhead ridge, and then climb the NE Ridge of McHenry's. Descend from the summit to the NW, then off the west side of the ridge to the upper reaches of the gully behind McHenry's Notch. 1 rap gets you into the gully. Climb Mt. Powell. Descend to the NW until you can drop on to the NE ridge that leads to Thatchtop. This ridge i...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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