Shelf Lake Trailhead provides access to the Shelf Lake Trail. This hike follows the Smelter Gulch drainage up to Shelf Lake, located in a high mountain cirque. The 3.2 mile hike is on an established trail the entire distance, and will take approximately 2 hours of hiking at a moderate pace to reach the lake. Elevation gain is 1,842 feet. The last ¾ mile is above treeline in tundra filled with a profusion of high alpine wildflowers. The lake is usually frozen until mid-June, and there may be snow through mid-July. Because of this late snow melt, the final portions of the trail remain wet and slightly boggy through mid-summer. Fishing in the lake is generally rated good for cutthroat throat. There are very few areas along the trail that are suitable as campsites.
From Bailey drive 10.8 miles west on Highway 285 to Grant. Turn right (north) on Park County Road 62 (sometimes called Guanella Pass Road). Drive 6.6 miles to the turnoff for Geneva Park Campground and Duck Creek Picnic Ground. From the turnoff, go 2.8 miles to the trailhead.