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hiked early morning 12/9. The hike to mills lake is a nice boot pack, crampons or microspikes reccomended. After mills lake, the trail mostly vanishes and its time to pull out the snowshoes. Great snowshoeing out to black lake. The views from the frozen lakes are astounding. Mild crowding on the way out to mills, very few after that. I would highly reccomend this trail, be ready for some pretty exhaustive snowshoeing the second half.

hiked early morning 12/9. The hike to mills lake is a nice boot pack, crampons or microspikes. After mills lake, the trail mostly vanishes and its time to pull out the snowshoes. Great snowshoing out to black lake, deffinitelty exhausting. the views from the frozen lakes is amazing. I would reccomend this trail, just be ready for some pretty exhaustive snowshoeing the second half.

hiking
1 day ago

First time hiking to Black Lake in winter. Trail from Bear Lake to Mills Lake was perfectly packed down, microspikes made it easy. The lake was frozen solid and it was so cool to walk straight across! Softer snow between Jewel Lake and Black -- changed to snowshoes about 20-30 min before reaching Black Lake after post-holing a few times. Luckily there were clear ski/snowshoe tracks to follow all the way. The distance between Jewel Lake and Black Lake always feels farther than it actually is. We walked around the shore of Black Lake to continue snowshoeing up to Blue Lake (used a GPS watch because we didn't see signs of a trail). SO worth it! The views from above the lake were stunning. Even better, Blue Lake was sheltered from wind making it a perfect spot for a snack break. Will definitely come back in the summer to find Green/Frozen and climb the Spearhead.
12.5 miles in 6.5 hours roundtrip

snowshoeing
2 days ago

Beautiful
Doable in regular hiking boots
Went on a Sunday at 11am and was moderately traveled
Lots of available parking

Fabulous! Parking spaces open when we arrived at 9 am. Spikes until the last mile and then it got deep and tricky. Super windy at the lake but lovely. Snow shoes necessary to get to the lake. Took us 3.5 hours to finish! Awesome day!

hiking
4 days ago

I always love this hike! Today was probably the most windy day I've had there thus far, at the lakes, but still beautiful! I started out around 9:40am, plenty of parking in the lot. I used my crimp-ons until just after nymph lake, then switched over to the snowshoes. There were quite a few people making it to Emerald lake with just the crimp-ons. That said there was a lot of post holing as well! I would recommend having your snowshoes with you. And to Arizona ( just moved here from AZ) have fun playing this winter! and maybe I'll see you snowshoeing next time;)!

Beautiful winter trail! Did this trail today and the snow was perfect. Snowshoes were definitely helpful, but can easily be done using only spikes. This took us around 4 hours round trip with plenty of photo stops and a little break up top. A good moderate hike

Great hike. Wore spikes to nymph lake then switched to snowshoes for rest of way. Trail was fairly well packed but a step off the trail and you quickly realize how deep the snow is. Got to dream lake and some hikers were ice skating. Walked across frozen lake and pressed to emerald.. some elevations getting to dream and emerald but nothing too long. Wind was down which made for a nice walk in the woods.

hiking
5 days ago

Completed this hike (+ a little extra) with my girlfriend in late summer. We did not set out with a definitive plan...got a late start, around 10am. We attempted to reach Green Lake after Black Lake, but turned around halfway (around 11,150ft) due to approaching storm clouds, and wanting to be back before dark.

Hard is an accurate rating, especially the last half-mile to Black Lake, and the extra mile we did after. I'm in moderate shape, and my girlfriend was visiting from sea level (her first hike above 10,000 ft!). We took a fair number of breaks for snacks and pictures...our Fitbits said 12 miles, 36,000 steps, in ~9 hours. The hike itself was not daunting, but we were exhausted by the end, and sore for a few days after.

Top pros were that the views were spectacular, and that the trail was mostly well marked. The exceptions are that we never saw the turn to Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. We also completely lost the trail in the bolderfield between Black Lake and Green Lake, which contributed to our decision to turn-around.

The biggest con, and reason for not giving it a 5th star, was the heavy traffic up to Mills Lake. We even got stuck behind a lady talking on her cellphone for awhile. We chose to skip a number of attractions (i.e. Alberta Falls) to avoid, and try and surpass, the crowds. Fortunately, most people stopped at, or before, Mills Lake. We saw less than two dozen people between Mills Lake and our turnaround.

Overall an excellent hike that we hope to do again, next time with an earlier start, a better plan, and hopefully in a little better shape!

hiking
7 days ago

Just up there today, winds out of the west with gusts that had to be 60 mph. Hike out past nymph lake was calm, but approaching dream lake winds really picked up.. high drifting past dream lake, without snow shoes you can’t get beyond the last hundred yards or so to emerald lake. Still a beautiful and awesome hike despite the winds. Only got up to 9F, gear held up nicely

Beautiful hike for all skill levels.

Did this hike yesterday with my friends. It was a little windy and there was a little ice near the falls but overall it was beautiful and an amazing hike.

snowshoeing
10 days ago

Nice show shoe, plenty of snow now.

hiking
10 days ago

Wind was intense once we reached Dream Lake! Got out of the wind by staying along the bank in the trees, but would've been much more difficult if we didn't have snowshoes.

Decent views. Cold around the lakes so don't quit. Snow shoes make it easier after dream lake. Emerald lake is gorgeous

Ok trail nice when you get to the lake
Easy trail

Great hike summer or winter will need spikes for sure

Nice pit stop on the way to black lake

Not to bad of a winter trail
Some ice

All right trail nice views at times

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful and Cold with a straight west wind. All three lakes are frozen solid but remain breathtaking. Trail is hard packed up to Dream Lake, but leg up to Emerald is looser. Can be done with micro spikes, but changed over to my snowshoes and going was much easier.

snowshoeing
15 days ago

Went on 11/26 and there was great snow! We used crampon spikes with 2/3” spikes and could only get to Dream Lake. The snow got knee deep after that so we had to turn around but snowshoers continued. Beginning of the trail had wide, packed snow but got progressively looser and more narrow as the trail went on. Beautiful views and great fun!

snowshoeing
15 days ago

Beautiful trail, great views, definitely needed the crampons/snow shoes to finish the full 3!

Hiked in August and it was super crowded but still beautiful! We saw all age ranges and abilities on this hike. Awesome views.

It’s so beautiful! We went in August later in the afternoon and it wasn’t terrible crowded. We had the final 2 lakes all to ourselves. The stairs heading up to the waterfall were the worst part. Beautiful hike!

hiking
17 days ago

Challenging climb, but you’re rewarded with a stunning lake at the end. Listen for the hikers cheering while conquering Longs Peak above. Enjoy!

Hiked in the snow. The views while limited on a cloudy day also was beautiful.

hiking
19 days ago

Nice Thanksgiving Day hike! As others have said, parts are icy and snowy particularly the last third or so. Since we didn’t have poles or yaktrax, we just had to slow down. Great views of Estes!

Gorgeous hike in late September. Colors abound, blue sky, no wind. Stopped at the Loch for a snack break and then onward and upward. Icy near the falls right before sky pond...and the falls were quite icy. Did not attempt to climb on up. Views from below the falls back towards Loch just outstanding. Decent days hike but if you take your time (especially if you are a flat lander in your late 50’s...) it can be done. Favorite hike yet in RMNP. May try going up during warmer weather next time.

Cold and windy late Sept hike. But the fall colors were just gorgeous.

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