Friday, July 8, 2011

Family Summer Trip Day 3 - RMNP Alberta Falls

We arrived in Rocky Mountain National Park early and were able to set up camp prior to lunch.  We had reserved campsite D147 in Moraine Park.  This was our second time to camp in Moraine Park and felt that this campsite was the best location.  We had a perfectly unobstructed view of Long's Peak, we seemed to be shielded from the wind and we were a good distance from our neighbors.





As usual, everyone helped out in unloading gear, setting up tents and organizing the cooking area.  The kids quickly explored the area and found a small rock outcropping that made a perfect "base".  The youngest boys took some of their camping toys down to their base where they could have stayed for hours..  My daughter found a tree that was perfect for climbing.  After camp was set up, games had been played and we ate some lunch, we grabbed some light hiking gear and headed over to the Glacier Gorge area for our first official hike of the trip.

Our plan was to make the short hike up to Alberta Falls.  We had heard there was a lot of snow in the area, but figured that the low elevation of Alberta Falls and the warm weather they had experienced recently, that there would not be an issue with snow pack.  We were badly mistaken.  Within about 200 yards, we ran upon our first patch of snow/ice and we were on and off it all the way up.

My kids decided they didn't need to wear their hiking shoes, since this was going to be a short, easy hike.  This would make traversing the snow a bit of a challenge for my oldest boy.  My daughter opted for her Keen Newport H2 sandals.  Her feet got a bit cold.  My two youngest just enjoyed slipping and sliding and stabbing the snow with the trekking poles.

The hike to Alberta Falls is fairly easy.  There's a couple of places where there are some switchbacks and it was a bit difficult to judge the difficulty this trip due to the amount of snow, which added a high degree of difficulty to the trip.  I think it's about 1.5 miles to the falls and you could easily make it there on terra firma in 1 hour.  I'd plan for about 2.5 - 3 hours round trip allowing you time to enjoy some of the scenery.



I have to admit, I'm a big fan of waterfalls, and Alberta Falls is a pretty one.  The icing on the cake was the amount of water running through it due to the recent snow melt.  The sound of the falls was very impressive and you can walk right up next to the top of the falls and get a sense of the power generated by nature.  We spent about 30-45 minutes sitting up near the falls having a snack and enjoying the sound of the falls.


We made the trek back down to the trail head safe and sound and everyone enjoyed the hike.  If you have about 3 hours and your looking for a nice short hike with great scenery, I'd highly recommend the Alberta Falls trail.  Don't expect to get much solitude, as "short" and "easy" translate to "busy", but it's worth hiking in company because it is gorgeous.  Plan to spend some time sitting by the falls.  There's a lot of great places to sit and have some snacks and just enjoy the rushing sounds.  I will often record the falls just for the sounds.  Here's a short video I took of the falls.  Enjoy.

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