Shelf Lake Trail is a 6.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Bailey, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible from June until October.
A beautiful hike to a lake on a high bench above timberline. The lake is often ice-bound until the end of June. The trailhead is at an old smelter site. The trail climbs steeply at first into a hanging valley, then climbs gradually up the valley to finish with a final short, but steep climb onto the shelf where the lake sits.
Tips to find the trailhead -- its easy to miss! Our car clocked 2,9 miles from the entrance sign at Geneva Park Campground, but there isn't a recognizable parking area and the small sign is on the right in the trees facing away from you as you go up the dirt road. We went passed it and didn't see the sign until we were driving back down (on the left as you go down). We'll be back to hike it - it ended up starting to snow so hard we decided to save it for a better day.
Pictures show an inconsiderate jerk with dogs off leash.
amazing when you get to the top.
great hike! We only passed 4 groups of people the entire trail. Beautiful lake. The road is a little sketchy to get there. I have an outback and it did fine, higher clearance would be nice, but I also saw some little non four wheel drive vehicles on the road. Also, if you put the trailhead in googlemaps it should take you right there. The trailhead is not well marked, but googlemaps did a good job.
We went on a Sunday and only saw 3 other groups. Make sure you have a vehicle with high clearance, the road is really rocky to the trail head.
Had the entire trail to myself during Peak Autumn season. Lots of diversity. Would do again next fall.
Beautiful hike! Plenty of variety from flower valleys to climbing through rocks, if you chose.
The last bit of road up to the trailhead is pretty rough and you will absolutely need 4WD. As for the trail itself, the first and last 1/4th of the trail is fairly steep but not overly difficult. Trail features some amazing views and wildflowers. I went on a Thursday afternoon and only crossed ONE other person on it. I thought the lake itself was very pretty and a good payoff to the hike, very quiet and tranquil. The hike took me about 4-4.5 hours total.
Rough road to get there, but there were Subarus the whole way up (the Mustang we saw was out of place though). Absolutely beautiful scenery the whole way up, and the lake itself is a great site as well. Definitely a tough hike with a 40 pound pack on.
With so many awesome places to hike this one is the bottom of my list. Hot, rocky and the lake at the top is nothing special.
It was absolutely beautiful, I hiked this with my 2 pups. The trail was well marked easy to navigate; however the road to get to the trail head was very rocky and you will need a high clearance vehicle to reach the trail. The trail was full of wildflowers in full bloom and several riverbeds to navigate across, you need to wear hiking boots or shoes with hard soles due to the rocky trail and trekking poles are a must. If your scared of heights or trekking on narrow edges, this may not be the trail for you. I will certainly hike this trail again, maybe even backpacking in for an over night. The Lake was absolutely beautiful and worth the hike in.
Hiked this trail 7/12/16. The road there gets rough. Hopefully that will continue to keep the masses away because this is a gem. It was a Tuesday and I saw 6 other people on the trail. Unfortunately there were several dog poop bags littered along the way. Who does that?
7.10 If you want a trail to yourself, this is a great one. Saw only a few people, most of whom camped the night before. Not my favorite lake trail, but a great one nonetheless
Beautiful views along this trail and the lake is in a fantastic location nestled into a fantastic bowl. If you look carefully along the top of the ridge line you may spy some mountain goats passing through...
Conditions today were a bit muddy in some spots and wet in others. Several brooks and streams were still running high with snow melt, but sere passable.
On July 9, 2016, there was zero snow on the trail, but the trail was muddy and flooded in several areas. Gorgeous wildflowers the last mile and a few marmots too. The fifth and final stream crossing is a little hairy - hiking poles help. Finally, the dirt road to the trail head is a rocky, flooded, pot-holed nightmare. I ended up walking most of the road to avoid blowing a tire. Google Maps App has accurate positioning of the trailhead. Also, look for the truck size pile of black rocks and the trail head is a few yards to the right. Overall, beautiful hike, great elevation, and decent tree cover and shade for a the first few miles if you start early enough.
Follow other reviews regarding the road conditions and directions. Great hike -- not too busy, stunning views.
Trailhead can be hard to find, but the expansive views and crisp air make it worthy of a challenging day hike. Ran into some snow on 4th of July weekend.
One of the best trails I've been on. Not crowded - even on the weekend. Lots of streams the whole way.
Awesome hike! Just did the hike 6-18 and there is still a bunch of snow at the top of the hike, which made a lot of people turn around and not even make it to the lake. It is totally worth battling through and making it all the way.