HIke to Mills Lake

Glacier Gorge Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Eric Schuette

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.

Distance

6.2 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

940 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

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

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Nearby Lodging

Estes Park KOA

Estes Park, Colorado

From $40/night

Boulder A-Lodge Camping

Boulder, Colorado

From $149/night

Boulder A-Lodge Cabin

Boulder, Colorado

From $39/night

Boulder A-Lodge Hostel

Boulder, Colorado

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Snowshoed an Interesting Path

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.

Mills Lake is awe-inspiring.

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.

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