• Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    940 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Enjoy the sunset at one of Rocky Mountain National Park's most scenic alpine lakes. Avoid most of the crowds that leave the area in the afternoon and head here for sunset. There are options to continue much further into glacier gorge to many more lakes and scenic locations. In the winter, some distance can be cut off by using the winter shortcut.

Start hiking at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead down the bear lake road in rocky mountain national park. The trailhead is very popular so it can be difficult to find a parking place at times. From Glacier Gorge, follow the obvious trail and signs towards mills lake.

In the summer the trail will go past Alberta Falls (0.85 miles from the trailhead) and continue climbing through forest with occasional views of longs peak and the glacier gorge cirque. At just over 2 miles the trail will split, the right heads toward Loch Vale and Left Heads to Mills Lake (this is also the spot the winter trail rejoins the main trail). From the junction, it is only another 0.5 miles to Mills lake. From here, you can also continue around Mills lake to the smaller and grassier Jewel lake. During the winter, the ice is usually safe/thick enough, although check for yourself, to cross and enjoy.

The winter trail heads up a small valley at the 4th bridge you cross from the trailhead. It cuts off almost a mile from the hike and is usually well traveled and easy to follow unless a large storm moved through the area recently.

Pack List

Day-hikes:
  • Standard hiking gear
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Map
  • Camera
Snowshoeing:
  • Appropriate winter clothing (the lake can be very windy)
  • Snowshoes
  • Poles
  • Traction devices (if you do not bring snowshoes)
Camping:
  • A backcountry permit is required from the office at the beaver meadows entrance
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Food
  • Stove
  • Lights
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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This is a cool lake to hike to, or to stop at on the way to Black Lake or one of the other awesome lakes in the area.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Ive been to mills lake twice. once in the winter and once in the summer. Both were super beautiful hikes in different ways. i really want to go back during sunset to get some beautiful photos from a beautiful lake.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Fun hike! We did it early June and there was some snow towards the end of the hike but was doable with just our hiking boots. Once we got to the lake, there were plenty of quite and private spots along the lake to relax and take in the views. Perfect spot for lunch!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We did this hike mid-April on snowshoes (which ended up being necessary). The winter route we took, however, involved going straight past Alberta Falls and following the creek the entire way to Mills Lake - "climbing" (walking up) two other waterfalls and seeing some bobcat tracks. If you're not comfortable breaking trail or walking on top of running water with a foot of snow, then definitely follow the author's directions. Otherwise, its a fun adventure to follow the creek. The lake itself was gorgeous and was solid enough to hold four of us standing closely, which made for a great climax to an already great day.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

We loved hiking to Mills Lake, and it is quite an easy 5 mile RT hike. Don't just stop at Alberta Falls! The panoramic views at Mills Lake are stunning any time of the day.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Eric Schuette Explorer

I love adventure and exploring. Currently a school psychologist who tries to spend my free-time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

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