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Short but challenging with great views.

hiking
7 hours ago

Absolutely gorgeous trail. Don't let the 8 mile distance deceive you, steep elevation gain and constant winds make this hike a challenging and fun winter hike. Definitely recommend micro spikes and crampons. Snowshoes aren't really necessary.

The trail basically has 4 parts: the lake, the glacier, the tundra, and the peak. Immediately you start to gain elevation as you hike up to St. Mary's Lake, but nothing too difficult. The first steep climb is up St. Mary's Glacier where you begin to notice the constant wind. This is where I went from just micro spikes to crampons with patches of ice along the climb. Though there's not much elevation climb, the trek across the wide open tundra is made challenging by the constant wind. I stayed comfortable and warm by leaving no exposed skin, however I still had to work hard as I was facing a constant headwind. I didn't it make it all the way up to the peak, stopping at a rocky outcrop before turning around. If I wasn't by myself and my phone hadn't died, I would've pressed onward. Definitely a doable winter summit hike, just be prepared!

really lovely views. steep but fun hiking. took us about an hour to the top and a bit less coming down.

trail running
13 hours ago

Perfect area to go on a run because of easy sidewalks. The views were amazing and I had a great time take pictures! Definitely going back

Beautiful Packed snow trails. Micro spikes came in handy. Chicago lake was amazing

Great hike, definitely didnt feel like a 6 miler. Easy and fun, plus we saw birds and deer and climbed on the rocks for a while.

Hiked 9.22. Great for a first 14er but a bit to many people on my way up, especially at the summit. Took the east side of the mountain down to the lake and hooked up to the abyss trail to make a loop out off this (makes for a 10+ mile hike). Much more secluded just watch your step as you are hopping boulder to boulder on the way down the side of the mountain. One wrong move you'd go down pretty hard but that was the most fun part for me. Also easy to lose yourself in 6' tall and dense shrubbery. Had to just power through some sections to find the trail again on the abyss portion.

NO DOGS ALLOWED.
Nice little hike, would do again!

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.

Super fun trail. Beautiful panoramas at the top. Two peak hike - highest to the left with a fun rock scramble to the top. Packed snow the whole way up. I used spikes but others I saw (total of 6 people) did not even have them on. Took a total of 4 hours with a break at the top. Seems like more of a moderate hike to me.

hiking
6 days 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

Definitely one of the more difficult trials I’ve climbed. The view was stunning and the workout was even better.

hiking
6 days ago

Awesome trail! Started a little too late and made it nearly a mile from the end and it was getting too late and we were too tired to go any faster. Right now only need mircospikes, snowshoes don't seem necessary if you stay on the hard packed trail. Trees blocked most of the wind. Definitely will be going again!

The trail was great yesterday! Partly snow covered but not difficult to manage at all. Views are killer. Wasn’t too busy either.

Completed hike on 12/8. Very rewarding view of Longs and the Mummys. Add at least a 1/4 mile from parking lot to the trail head. Began at 10:30 and was on the first summit by 1. Snow pack almost the entire way- much deeper at RMNP/National Forest boundary marker. Crampons definitely recommended. Can easily summit both "sisters" within an hour (plus lunch). We were lucky to have minimal wind at the summit, but it was cold- roughly 15 degrees and colder with wind chill. All around amazing, not too difficult of a hike even with the snow. Plan to be back in the parking lot by 4:30 (sunset).

Great hike and view from the top spectacular!

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked 12/8

40-50mph sustained winds. Party of 3 with avalanche gear, rescue equip and all the layers. Glad we had it. We got about halfway through the long saddle before realizing we not only couldn’t visualize the destination by then, but also were getting some wicked frostbite on the covered areas of our faces. We made the right decision to turn back and do some rescue practice when...

Avalanche occurred on steep face of st Mary’s on our return. We spent some time on the NW side of the glacier practicing rescues and arrests. On our way down noticed a large rescue squad who mentioned an avalanche occurred minutes earlier. Visibility was 20-30ft so we didn’t believe them until we looked at the lake bed from a plateau....we knew the terrain and not to hike this area because of the risk, and boy are we glad.

Great place to practice, but even here you need to be aware. Forecast on avalanches were low-moderate risk, but the very strong winds this weekend created a cornice that when broken by a skier above, unleashed a sizable slide.

STAY TO THE RIGHT as you head up the glacial drainage, bring all the gear and make your decisions before it’s too late.

Without the wind destroying our little bit of exposed skin, it would have been a pleasant ~5 hour trek. It was a great shortened summit to the top of St. Mary’s and the two mountains on each side of the glacier. Difficult but not insane. Crampons, snowshoes, pole and maybe and axe recommended. 10-30” in most places.

Not for tourists visitors, but also not only for seasoned veterans. Somewhere in between with emphasis on basic mountain safety knowledge.

Today the view was spectacular. The trail to the summit was 1/2 dry and 1/2 covered with a light dusting of dry snow that was crunchy but not sloppy or icy at all. The snow was less than 1/2” deep.

Great hike for sure. It is very strenuous especially if you go clockwise up Fern trail. Lots of elevation gain fast. Didn't need spikes for most of trail up until about the last 800 ft. in gain. Also needed them going back down for most of the trail. Great views in multiple spots. If you can, climb up to Bear peak actually and not just as it shows on the trail map. It is a bit of a scramble, but views are absolutely worth it.Just be careful especially with ice and snow. This was a favorite hike of mine now. I will go back in summer months when there is no snow to check it out then as well.

Love this trail. A good steady incline up, beautiful buttery downhill to a nice creek flow off of the falls. Beautiful in winter, can’t wait to head back in the spring.

hiking
9 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!

The trail is steep. Be prepared to stumble and loose footing. Wear shoes with lots of traction. It’s an adventure for sure.

The reviews don’t lie, this trail is hard. The way up is mainly an incline and the end of the trail is climbing up steep rocks. I ran into a lot of deer, and the trail was very peaceful and the view at the top was amazing. But be aware the way down is very slippery, and I lost my footing a few times. Worth the hike, but be mentally prepared for the challenge!

This was a perfect hike to get the burn I was seeking, along with the views and also saw plenty of deer, 1 nice buck. I clocked 5 miles and 2083 elevation gain... May have got a little side tracked checking out the deer. Super easy to get to the trailhead and easy to follow trail. Great hike and views if you’re looking to get a workout in. If you’re afraid of heights.... be careful. Very rocky, loose rocks and pretty much straight incline the entire way, loved it. Worth it!

This trail is HARD but very worth it. We saw everyone around us sliding and falling, so be careful! No ice/snow (surprising for december) but pretty biting winds near the peak. I would recommend a pole or two, though we went without just fine.

A great ball-buster of a hike. Love it!

Did this on 12/1/18. This trail is very difficult. I’d rather do Mt Evans 50 times before I ever do this again lol. It was worth it and had beautiful views at the top, but it was hard! The top scared me a little bit with how steep it was along with the scrambling, especially coming down, but I survived. No ice or anything since there hasn’t been a lot of snow.

Nothing to crazy to see. It does have some decent incline. I did use crampons for some more grip because of snow on the trail. Otherwise pretty easy.

My husband and baby went snowshoeing here today; it's a long-shot, but he lost his car keys. Old beat up key for a Scion tC, safety pin, house key, and a silver metal flash drive. If anyone happens out there tomorrow and sees them, please let me know! RhiannonDean07 @ gmail

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