Shelf Lake Trail

We were lucky that our campsite this year was extremely close to the trailhead for Shelf Lake. Once we had set up a few of the essentials at camp, we set out on our hike. It was an absolutely perfect day, and it didn’t seem like the trail was too busy.

Parking at the trailhead itself. There wasn’t too many cars here today.

The trail began in the thick of the forest, with quite a few switchbacks to make for a steep start. It definitely got our heart rate going and made sure we were warmed up for the rest of the hike.

Ominous sign of what’s to come…

As is the story all over the higher elevations of Colorado right now, there’s a lot of snowmelt coming down the mountain, creating numerous streams and waterfalls that must be crossed.

Not too sure about this one…

I kept having the thought that this must be the most serene and peaceful hike that I’ve been on in Colorado. Starting out in the middle of the forest, surrounded by nothing but trees and the sound of rushing water, it felt like we were all alone in the wilderness. For the most part, we actually were, which was a welcome change from the normally bustling trails we hike in the foothills. The trail certainly wasn’t easy though, as it continued to be steep and rocky.

We finally came to a clearing at the top of a steep section, where you could look back towards where we had come from. The bottom of the valley is where Geneva Creek and our campsite are. We knew it had been steep, but it was still incredible to see how far we had climbed. This was one of the best vantage points of the day.

Once we got out of the switchbacks of the beginning, it actually felt like we were starting to make some progress towards our ultimate goal. The scenery continued to impress.

Grouping of trees growing together in the form of one huge tree. Never seen something quite like this!

There’s not much I can say that the pictures don’t say for themselves. Absolutely incredible hike!

Unfortunately, the summer snow we received in the higher elevations proved to be an impassable object once again. We reached a river that required us to take our shoes off to cross. The problem was that we needed to cross at the widest point and the water had just been snow earlier that day. Even a few steps in the near freezing water produced such a sharp, deep pain that it was just too much.

We searched for alternate routes around the water, but there just wasn’t anything that was workable. We also heard from a couple other guys coming down that even if we were able to cross the river, there was too much snow before the lake to make it anyways. We were tired and knew we had more to do back at camp, so we turned around and headed back down. I have no doubt that we’ll be back to finish this hike once the snow melts more.

I would highly recommend this hike here in a month or so, and I’ll be sure to post an update once we make it all the way to Shelf Lake!!

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