Andrews Tarn and Andrews Glacier, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Andrews Tarn and Andrews Glacier - 9.3 Miles
Glacier Gorge Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.3 Miles (add an additional .5 miles roundtrip to base of glacier)|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,240' - 11,390' (11,390' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,150' net elevation gain (+2,405' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Andrews Tarn lies at the base of Andrews Glacier, one of Rocky Mountain National Park's largest, most active and accessible glaciers. The hike to Andrews Tarn leads past Loch Vale and scales a steep ridge into an adjacent valley capped by Andrews Glacier:
The Loch Vale Trail rises over Glacier Creek through young aspen to Alberta Falls (.85 miles : 9,423'). It continues to the North Longs Peak Trail split (1.6 miles : 9,768'), where it banks southwest and flattens through a gap between Thatchtop Mountain (12,668') and the Glacier Knobs.
The trail drops to Glacier Junction (2.1 miles : 9,804'), a point marking the convergence of two immense glacial valleys. Follow signs to The Loch. The trail levels over Icy Brook, then steepens away on switchbacks into a thick forest (2.5 miles : 9,985').
The valley opens dramatically upon reaching The Loch (2.95 miles : 10,192'), where the main trail veers right up its north shore.
The trail follows the shore back into the forest (3.3 miles : 10,215'), and the inlet to a pair of footbridges over Andrews Creek at the Sky Pond - Andrews Glacier Trail split (3.65 miles : 10,379').
Though well-marked, the Andrews Glacier Trail is not immediately visible from the signpost itself; to find it, backtrack several steps and look north up a rock slab. The trail picks up just above the rock slab and runs up the west side of Andrews Creek.
The climb intensifies on a rugged, sparingly-defined path obstructed by dead fall and lingering snow. Remain vigilant to the Andrews Creek Campground (3.85 miles : 10,560'), where the trail bends northwest through treeline to a crest overlooking the Andrews Glacier valley.
The trail crosses Andrews Creek (4.0 miles : 10,680') to the valley's north side and begins an arduous trek over scree and talus. Cairns offer guidance, but are fairly anonymous in the rocky landscape. Take your time through this uneven section. The valley narrows as you progress with emerging views of the Sharkstooth and snow fingers within The Gash.
The trail reaches a small glacier in the valley center and crosses back over Andrews Creek to the south side (4.45 miles : 11,137'). This is a critical maneuver, as travel up or north of this glacier requires technical equipment.
Follow cairns over the creek and make one final, steep push to Andrews Tarn (4.65 miles : 11,390'). A social trail wraps the yarn's south side to the base of Andrews Glacier (4.85 miles).
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N40 18.621 W105 38.419 — Glacier Gorge Trailhead
- N40 18.237 W105 38.289 — .85 miles : Alberta Falls
- N40 17.982 W105 38.391 — 1.6 miles : North Longs Peak Trail junction
- N40 17.842 W105 38.757 — 2.1 miles : Glacier Gorge Junction
- N40 17.664 W105 39.049 — 2.5 miles : Begin final switchbacks to reach The Loch
- N40 17.639 W105 39.270 — 2.95 miles : The Loch
- N40 17.278 W105 39.856 — 3.65 miles : Andrews Glacier Trail junction
- N40 17.393 W105 39.938 — 3.85 miles : Andrews Creek Campground spur
- N40 17.376 W105 40.221 — 4.05 miles : Cross Andrews Creek #1
- N40 17.386 W105 40.428 — 4.15 miles : Travel through cairn -marked talus
- N40 17.355 W105 40.613 — 4.45 miles : Cross Andrews Creek #1
- N40 17.315 W105 40.700 — 4.65 miles : Andrews Tarn
- Arrive early to secure parking, avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms. Anticipate steep, rugged trail conditions on the last mile, and plan travel time accordingly. Be mindful of changing weather and aim for treeline before storms develop.
- Andrews Glacier is also accessible from an unmaintained route along the Continental Divide. From the Bear Lake Trailhead, summit Flattop Mountain and continue south past Otis Peak along the divide. You may descend Andrews Glacier and return to the Glacier Gorge Lake Trailhead via the trail described above. A .5 mile spur connects the Loch Vale Trail with the Bear Lake Trailhead to complete the loop. Only skilled and equipped hikers should attempt this route.
- The Sharkstooth and The Gash - part of the valley wall separating Andrews Glacier from Sky Pond - are named so for the multiple needle-like rock spires that resemble a row of shark's teeth.
- Andrews Glacier and Tarn are named after Edwin B. Andrews, a relative of Abner Sprague (an early Park settler and advocate). The two men climbed the glacier in 1897, and Sprague named it for Andrews.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite
- There is only one designated site and one privy at the Andrews Creek Campsite. A maximum of two 4-person tents are allowed.
- The site is located at 10,560' in a spruce-fir stand beside avalanche debris on the east side of Andrews Creek, about .2 miles from the Sky Pond - Andrews Glacier split (3.8 miles from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead).
- Near the site is a large area of trees downed by an avalanche in the winter of 1985-86. A wood sign indicates the path to the site from the Andrews Glacier Trail; the path is marked by red arrowheads on trees. Pitch tent(s) as close to the indicated site as possible, safely away from standing dead trees.
Rules and Regulations
- Horses and stock are not permitted beyond Glacier Junction.
Andrews Tarn and Andrews Glacier are accessed from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, 8.4 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on Bear Lake Road.
Just beyond the Beaver Meadows entrance station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. The Glacier Gorge Trailhead is located on the left side of the road and has limited parking. Additional parking and alternative access can be found at the Bear Lake Trailhead. This will add an additional 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.
Rocky Mountain National Park