Hiking to Alberta Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park


After taking the trail out to Emerald Lake and back, I was still in the mood for a little more hiking.  The 8/10 of a mile jaunt out to Alberta Falls sounded perfect, so I took the left fork in the trail, and headed in that direction.

Click the image to see a larger version.

The Alberta Falls Trail heads through the forest for a few minutes, until you arrive at the edge of Bear Lake Road.  This break in the trees gives you a nice view of one of the road’s hairpin curves.

If you can’t find a parking space at the Bear Lake Trailhead, but still want to hike to Alberta Falls, you can use the Glacier Gorge trailhead instead.  It’s just down the road from this curve, and parking there might shorten your hike to Alberta Falls, just slightly, compared with the hike from Bear Lake.

The trail continues through an aspen forest.  Graffiti-scarred trees line the path.  These trees would make a visit during autumn quite spectacular.


The trail runs up to the edge of a gorge, then turns right and runs along the side of the canyon.  Even though you can see some water falling here, don’t be confused — this is not Alberta Falls.

Keep following the trail, and before long, the deep gorge ends, and the water is flowing right beside the trail.  You’ll see smaller cascades along this part of the trail, but you still haven’t arrived at Alberta Falls…

… until you see this!  Alberta Falls is a huge, thundering cascade, tumbling over boulders and squeezing in between them, as it makes its plunge.  There are countless good spots for watching the water along the edge of the falls, so pick one, and take a few minutes to appreciate its awesome power.

I found a spot near the top of the falls…

… where I could dangle my feet over the edge, as I looked downstream.

At the very top of the falls, the rushing water was spilling over rocks.  No doubt, the time of year (early June) had something to do with the ferocity of the water, as snow-melt provided plenty of liquid fuel to power the stream.

The view from the top of Alberta Falls is fantastic.  In the distance, you’ll see many of Rocky Mountain National Park’s tallest peaks, peeking over the ridge of Bierstadt Moraine–a lateral moraine left behind when glaciers retreated.  Bear Lake Road runs through the valley in the foreground.

After Alberta Falls, I hiked back to the car.

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