Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake via Glacier Gorge Trail

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake via Glacier Gorge Trail is a 9.2 mile out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing.

Length9.2 miElevation gain2,316 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingRock climbingForestLakeViewsWildflowersWildlifeRockyScrambleFeeNo dogs
Description
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Rocky Mountain National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are per vehicle/motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is per person. You can also purchase a park-specific annual pass. Please check with the park for current rates.

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Reviews (34)
Photos (3,832)
Activities (31)
Completed (621)
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Mark Stephens
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Hiking

Views hazy from smoke of Cameron fire. Hiking was great. Windy sometimes.

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Taylor Duncan
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HikingBlowdownGreat!Off trail

It’s mellow until it turns off the maintained trail. After that it is steep and there’s downed trees but I didn’t find the social trail hard to follow. Shelf and solitude are amazing. Apparently there’s a pretty easy way to traverse down to black lake from shelf rather than going back down the steep forested section. All trails wasn’t loaded so I couldn’t tell where I was so I didn’t go that way but might be helpful info for someone.

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Emily Grippin
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HikingOff trail

Great hike 8/29! After passing Glacier Creek campsite, hike 0.5 miles toward Black Lake and look for a large log cut in half to the right. The trail starts at this log and crosses Glacier Creek via two large flat rocks. Elevation is crazy, almost 1000 feet in 0.7 miles but well worth the effort. Both lakes and the adjoining waterfall are beautiful. The trail is marked with intermittent cairns but we were able to navigate without them for the most part. Still, a map does come in handy. Try to stick close to shelf creek when you first get on the trail because there are some cool waterfalls hidden in there!

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Dave Spates
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Hiking
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Tom Leone
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Hiking
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Haley Szczublewski
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HikingBlowdownBugsOff trailOver grownScramble

Wow! These lakes are so beautiful! Some of the bluest lakes I’ve seen in Rocky Mountain! The first lake has waterfalls cascading down into it from the top lake. The river has some small waterfalls that fall down the cliff past the first lake and it looks like a negative edge pool with beautiful views of the mountains behind. Seriously was stunned at how beautiful this was! The route is a bit of a different story. You definitely need AllTrails map or gps handy to help guide you. Takes off right from black lake trail at two logs, and crosses the river. From there essentially goes straight up with about 1500ft vertical gain in less than a mile. Route is hard to find in places, extremely steep, lots of blow down and bushwhacking. Definitely hard as it says due to steepness and route finding, do not take the rating lightly. Had the lakes all to myself the entire time, literally no one else on trail on a Sunday!

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Andrew Jensen
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Very sexy lakes! For an extra challenge scramble up Thatchtop and then go down the other side of that, but holy steepness beware. Trail guide sort of under reported how steep it is and important to fund the S shape gully and not go over a cliff.

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Michael Fellers
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HikingGreat!

Got to the trailhead at 5am and the parking lot was half-full. We set off at 5:15am and hiked the first part in the dark. We intended to take the fire trail to save some time, but turned off to early and ended up skirting the creek for a half mile or so on game trails until we finally realized it and scrambled up to the fire trail. From there it was much easier going. The turnoff to the Shelf-Solitude trail was marked by two large logs but not much else - easy to miss. The climb up to the lakes was challenging and enjoyable. So many different routes, some bouldering. The view of Shelf lake at the top made the climb worth it. Literally breathtaking. Would have love to have had more time to spend there, but we had to get back. Made it back down and at the parking area by 10:45am.

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Kieran Murphy
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HikingOff trail

The bushwhack yo can be tricky to find, and the ‘schwacking itself is tougher through June due to the snow. But two of my favorite lakes in the Park.

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Puneet Pasrich
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HikingSnow
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Puneet Pasrich
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HikingSnow

On 6.16.20 we hiked to the two lakes with our snowshoes. Currently, the snow line is at 11,000 feet. We took our gaitors and snowshoes and did use the latter but it wasn't worth the weight and effort. I recommend microspikes and neither snowshoes nor gaitors. Both lakes have melted out and are gorgeous! As you'll experience, the social trail to the lakes is "primitive", keeping you mentally focused on routefinding and avoiding obstacles. I recommend taking my downhill path in both directions; we encountered a steep snowfield on our ascent that was quite a challenge.

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Mark Stephens
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HikingOff trailSnow

Sketchy steep wonderful trail. Last 500’ steep and soft snow covered kept me from Shelf Lake. Hiked 6/5/20.

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Peter Murphy
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Hiking

I agree with all that has been said. It is a beautiful hike on a relatively unused and difficult trail after you turn off the Black Lake trail. We encountered only 4 other hikers in late July. Excellent views of Glacier Gorge.

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Shannon Postholer
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Hiking

This hike is Hard, not moderate! It easy to lose the trail after leaving Glacier Gorge Trail. Lots of uneven terrain and some exposure and scrambles. Slippery snow with dangerous drop offs. However, beautiful and worth it, just don’t underestimate.

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becca mdphd
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HikingRockyScrambleSnow

NOT A MODERATE HIKE!! Steep with class 2+ scrambling and moderate exposure at the top. But it is an absolutely gorgeous hike to hidden magical lakes in RMNP. When there’s snow, you climb a mini couloir, so bring microspikes and poles at the least.

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Chris Seanard
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Hiking
First to Review

Follow Glacial Gorge Trail towards Black Lake, but turn right at 3.8 miles. Hop over the creek and head uphill. Follow the cairns up and up. This is a steep and sometimes exposed, difficult trail. After the often snow filled gully, there are 2 hidden lakes. Heading up the gully might require climbing and or mountaineering skills. Micro spikes and poles recommended at a minimum. WARNING: dangerous falls are possible.

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Sharon Zahradnick
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Hiking
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Ingrid Hockenberry
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Hiking
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Vivienne Errington-Barnes
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Hiking
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Michael Cibelli
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Hiking
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Lysianne Peacock
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Hiking
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