Solitude Lake


Solitude Lake is off the main trail leading to Black Lake.  The point where you leave the main trail is not easy to see, so most people pass right by not even realizing what they might be missing.  I did this hike last year but visibility was limited because of light snow.  One of the things I wanted to accomplish was getting a good photograph Longs Peak's Trough, and possibly capturing some hikers climbing it.  Hence, my return this year.

Be sure to click on these photos for larger versions.


1. Alberta Falls is a short distance from the Glacier Gorge trailhead and one of the favorite hiking destinations for many visitors to the park.

2. As the trail winds it way up the side of one of the Glacier Knobs, this view of the Mummy Range opens up to the north.

3. After passing Alberta Falls the trail heads west away from Glacier Creek, then turns south for a bit and back to the east again and back toward Glacier Creek.  You'll soon hear rushing water and if you step off the trail a little and move closer to the creek, you will see this unnamed waterfall.

4. This is the same unnamed waterfall from down close to the creek.

5. Hikers on the trail ahead rounding the east side of one of the Glacier Knobs.

6. A chipmunk along the trail.

7. Flowers along the trail.

8. Mills Lake with Pagoda Mountain and Chiefs Head Peak.

9. Glacier Creek.

10. It's a little tricky finding the right place to cross Glacier Creek and start the climb up to Shelf Lake.  It's near Arrowhead shown in this picture.

11. The climb up to Shelf Lake is steep!  You grab on to tree limbs and anything else you can grab to help pull yourself upward.  A guy like me has plenty of time to look around and enjoy the scenery as I'm catching my breath.  Here are flowers and water cascading down some rock.

12. Getting a little closer to Shelf Lake now and the "trail" is opening up more and there are lots of wild flowers in some areas.

13. I'm just below Shelf Lake now and the "trail" has leveled off quite a bit.  Looking back you get a sense of how steep that climb was.  I'm nearly 1000 feet above Glacier Creek now.  When I returned to this spot on the way down, I looked over the edge and thought to myself; holy cow, I climbed up that!

This is the second time I have hiked to Solitude Lake.  The other thing I realized at this spot was that I didn't come this way the last time.  Last time I remember having to negotiate a tricky spot that I didn't find this time.

14. I've reached Shelf Lake.  The waterfall is water draining from Solitude Lake up on the next shelf.

15. Turning around and looking to the southeast, you get a great view of Longs Peak.

16. Zooming in a little, you can see the still partially snow filled Trough.  My buddy Jeff and his daughter camped at the Boulder Field last night and plan to summit Longs today.  They might be high up in the Trough right now.

17. One thing I wanted to do while up here was take a good shot of the Trough and see if I could find hikers in the picture.  I expected that in some cases it may be difficult to tell the difference between hikers and rocks, so I took two photographs like this one a few minutes apart so I could compare the two very closely and find differences.  Sure enough, there they are!  I found about eight hikers in this photo and magnified a spot with two.

18. This is the second photograph that I used for comparison, and found about 13 hikers in this one.  This one has a hiker at the very top as he is crossing over to the Narrows on the other side.

19. Looking northeast from just above Shelf Lake.

20. The cascades just below Solitude Lake.

21. Looking southwest from Solitude Lake toward Powell Peak.

22. Looking northwest from Solitude Lake toward Thatchtop.  Solitude Lake is aptly named.  I didn't see another person the whole time I was away from the main Glacier Gorge trail.