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427 Glacier Creek Trail 2011-06-29

Boulder Brook Trail

After leaving Boulder, I made the drive to Estes Park and on to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was around lunch when I stopped by Glacier Basin Campground to see if the campsite I had reserved was available - the check-in was posted as 2 pm. The Rangers allowed me to go ahead and have the site.

The campground had changed quite a bit since the last time Amy and I had stayed there. The beetles had killed all the pine trees and there were no trees left. My site, number 89, was barren. Instead of pine trees, there were new restrooms. I must admit they were very nice. Also, because the trees are gone the views of the mountains (and restrooms) are magnificent.

While setting up the tent, an elk grazed his way into the area. He was as close as ten feet from me.

elk in the campground

With distractions such as the elk and the view, it took longer than expected to set up camp; but soon I was walking up Glacier Creek Trail. The trail starts at the campground and goes about 5 miles to the Glacier Gorge Trail and then onto to Bear Lake.

The first couple of miles of trail is shared as a horse trail. It was hard to walk the trail due to the deep ruts and loose sand. Even worse were those pungent horse smells. The next couple of miles of trail climbed a bit more; but were horse free. It was amazing how much nicer the trail was.

Nearing the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there was a family stopped at one of the lily ponds. As I was passing the matriarch said, "I guess we are about a tenth of a miles from Alberta Falls."

I thought for a second and then wondered if she was talking to me. Finally, I spoke up and told her that if they was trying to get to Alberta Falls, they were on the wrong trail. Stopping, I took off my pack and showed her the map. Leaving the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, The first trail is the Glacier Creek and second trail is the one that leads to Alberta Falls. They took the first left instead of the second one. We conversed for a few minutes and then I left them.

I could see how she could have chosen the wrong trail. I just hope they went back to hike to the falls. With all of the water, Alberta Falls would have to be big.

It was a fairly steep hike to the junction where the family took the wrong turn. Suddenly, I was thrust into another world. I had walked the trail with just seeing a handful of other hikers and now there were people everywhere. Once I arrived at Bear Lake Trailhead the crowds were even bigger. I quickly left.

To return to camp I followed the same trail until the Sprague Lake Trail Junction. For fun, I detoured to the lake to avoid some of the horse trails. The lake was crowded as usual; but I still enjoyed the hike. Soon I was back in camp. It was a good hike with not much traffic.

A few Glacier Creek Trail notes ...

It was hot in the afternoon. The beetle's killed the pines and the shade the trees provided for the trails.

There are restrooms and water at the Glacier Basin Campground.

If not camping, stop at the Ranger Station and ask for a parking location.

Of course, you could ride the shuttle to Bear Lake and then walk one way downhill to Glacier Basin.

The trail climbs fairly gently. It is a good running trail.

Make sure you carry a map. The horse trails around Sprague Lake seem to go everywhere.

There are numerous large boulders or rocks that beg you to take a rest and enjoy the view.

There was a rock that formed a perfect sitting bench that I passed on the way to Sprague Lake (west of the lake). A few years back, Amy and Rose (daughter) posed on the bench for a picture. Amy is due to join me in less than a week now!

There were several places where you could filter water along the trail.

Restrooms and water are available at Bear Lake.

This is a great hike that takes the path of the less traveled.

Happy Glacier Creek trails.


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