Shelf Lake sits high in the Glacier Gorge, tucked under Thatchtop Mountain (12,668 ft), and 200 ft below Solitude Lake. To reach Shelf Lake you can start at either Glacier Gorge trailhead or Bear Lake trailhead. From there you will hike past Mills Lake and Jewel Lake. Keep hiking on the Glacier Gorge trail for .8 miles until you reach two logs that are slightly separated logs shaped into a V. This is the route we took and is not the only way to get up there.
Check out Emily’s write up on hiking to Shelf and Solitude Lakes!
Video Footage of our Shelf Lake Day Hike
Once we hopped a couple boulders to cross Glacier Creek the fun began. A steep hike through dense trees and a rocky trail that isn’t always evident. Just .6 miles after crossing Glacier Creek and 1,000 ft of vertical elevation gain, Shelf Lake appeared.
Shelf Lake doesn’t get many visitors compared to Black Lake, which is right down the trail. This is due to route finding and difficulty, but can compete with the views that Black Lake has to offer.
On the south end of Shelf Lake is a wide cascade that presents amazing sounds of running water. The cascade flow wasn’t that heavy though in late August when we did this hike.
If you were strong enough to make it to Shelf Lake, and the weather is in your favor then I highly recommend continuing another 1/2 mile and 200 ft of elevation gain to the amazing Solitude Lake.