- Mileage: 7 miles from Moore Park campsite (where we came from), 7.8 miles roundtrip from the Glacier Gorge trail head, 5.4 miles roundtrip from the Sprague Lake or Storm Pass trail heads.
- Elevation gain: 960 feet from Glacier Gorge trail head, 1,490 from Sprague Lake and Storm Pass trail heads.
- Altitude: 10,200 feet
- To get there: From Glacier Gorge Trailhead on the Bear Lake Road in RMNP follow the trail past Alberta Falls. Following signs to Boulder Brook, turn left at the junction with the Mills Lake/Loch Vale trail. From Sprague Lake or Storm Pass trailheads on Bear Lake Road in RMNP: Follow the Boulder Brook trail.
- Side Trips: Boulder Brook trail, The Loch Vale, Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Black Lake, Alberta Falls
“Watch out!” Alex yells from behind me, as a falcon’s scream is getting closer and closer to my head.
I duck, making sure to keep the stick I am carrying high above my head in an attempt at protecting myself. We are on Storm Pass and I am being dive-bombed by a sizeable falcon. I don’t see her, but I hear her and that’s enough to scare me. When we reached the trail junction pointing us either to Storm Pass or to the East Portal trailhead, there was a sign stapled to a tree. It warned us of the aggressive raptor and advised an alternate route. However, this is the way to our next site on our two night trip, so we have to go through the raptor’s territory.
At the top of Storm Pass, we meet five ladies who encountered the raptor in the area we are about to hike through. She tormented them for 3-4 minutes as they waved sticks above their heads, trying to scare her away. I am nervous as we knowingly hike toward an aggressive ___ falcon, with a ____ wingspan. As we get closer to her, we meet three people on horseback who had no problems with her. They tell us we probably won’t have problems with her if we are extra quiet. But it is as I am tiptoeing down the trail, not saying a word that I hear her screaming behind me. A little nervous and laughing at our adventure, we continue on without any falcon-inflicted injuries.
After Storm Pass, we come to junction at the bottom of the Boulder Brook trail. We’ve heard from friends that it’s steep, and we can tell it is from looking at the map. The two miles from our junction brings 1,490 feet of elevation gain, but is one of the prettiest trails I’ve ever hiked. I’ve mentioned previously that there’s something about Aspen trees that just gets me, and Boulder Brook is lined by Aspens. The brook flows down the steep hill that we are climbing up, watering everything on its banks as it goes by. It is green around the trail and shaded, and the rushing sounds of the brook take my mind off the difficulty of the trail.
About halfway up the trail we meet an impressive 10-year-old and his dad. After hearing from a fellow hiker that there was a bear with two cubs on the trail, they turned back but were now contemplating following us up the trail. As the four of us set off we hear about the boy’s goals (to hike the highest point in every state and to become a golfer) and his feats in RMNP (namely, Chasm Lake and Boulder Brook). At the top of the trail, we find a chain of small meadows where the boy and his dad stop off for lunch. We continue up and up to the Boulder Brook group site. After setting up camp at the top of the hill and eating lunch, we head west from our site to Mills and Jewel Lake.
Source for hiking details: Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park, A Falcon Guide by Kent and Donna Dannen; NPS area maps of RMNP