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Hiked this trail in mid-September. Probably my most favorite trail ever. Well worth the scramble up the waterfall. Spectacular lakes set in a backdrop of towering mountains. And the colors were amazing. Definitely worth the effort to get there. Make sure to take the time to stop and enjoy the many views.

One of the best in the park.

Undeniably one of my favorites in Rocky Mountain. Typically pretty busy trail during the summer, and almost always a line around the waterfall climb, but doesn’t distract from the beauty at the top. One of the most fun hikes for the varying terrain and views.

Hiked this trail only wearing my micro spikes. Great hike!!! The waterfall wasn't that bad. Windy in some spots but I did most of the hike wearing a long sleeve T shirt. Got on the trail at 10 and the lot was full so we had to drop some of are party and hitch a ride... Took about 8 seconds to get a lift. Great day.

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 month 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

hiking
1 month 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!

Great hike summer or winter will need spikes for sure

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!

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.

I made it to Sky Pond on 11/12 after about 6 inches of snow the night before. The trail all the way up to the Loch was well traveled and I was able to do it with good winter boots only, no traction devices needed although as the fresh snow goes away and turns into ice I would highly recommend Micro spikes. After the Loch snowshoes were essential and the climb up to Lake of Glass should only be attempted with crampons/ice axe it is almost entirely ice and rock at this point. Put your snowshoes back on for the last half mile to Sky Pond and enjoy, definitely one of the best destinations in the park.

Made it to Lake of Glass last week after a scale up glacier and snow. There wasn't really a trail so went off the cuff with my boy, snow was deep af. Was a lil past 3:30pm so didn't want to head full way to Sky Pond just to be stuck in the dark trying to make way back down cliff side. Such a sick ass trail and experience though.

Such a beautiful hike! I wore microspikes the entire trip up to the waterfall which is around 9 miles round trip. I would definitely recommend wearing snowshoes though. I sunk up to my thighs in certain places by the Loch lake. I saw quite a few people up on the trail today they said that people were using icepicks to get up to sky pond.

Was an amazing trail with quite a few spectacular sights. Happened to be snow up there in October and made it difficult without proper gear. Crampons needed during winter months for sure. We didn’t make it up the waterfall scramble with just hiking shoes. Was way to slick. But still recommend this trail. Turning around near waterfall ended up being about 13 miles round trip with one wrong turn.

A very exciting hike, at least during wintertime. Looking forward to coming back during the summer when the lakes aren’t completely iced over. Hiked it with a friend about 3 weeks back and definitely recommend micro spikes. I couldn’t really imagine doing it now without them. Most of the trail is pretty manageable with some decent inclines but, as most people have said, the trickiest section is the scramble right next to the waterfall before glass lake. It was very icy and very slick, I would not do this one without micro spikes. The views once you get to the top are very nice, and make for a nice experience. We arrived at the trailhead at around 6:50 AM to avoid crowds. On the way up, we bumped into a few people, but on the way back down there was a steady flow of hikers. I would recommend doing this hike nice and early to avoid the most crowds as possible.

I just want to clarify some of the statements on this thread. A lot of people seem to refer to "climbing a waterfall". There is no climbing of a waterfall on this hike. There is however, scrambling on slick ice "on the trail" adjacent to the Timberline falls. As mentioned by many reviewers, this scrambling is no joke and I wouldn't recommend it without microspikes. However, you will not be climbing a waterfall on this trail, or at least you don't have to. Such statements on the reviews made some of my friends very nervous about doing this hike. I thought I'll clarify it for others.

Absolutely gorgeous trail... scenic the entire hike! We rented micro spikes from an outdoor shop in Estes.. wouldn’t recommend the last half of this hike without them. The waterfall is iced over and caused difficulty getting to Glass Lake but once you’re over that climb, the rest is easy. We had lunch in a Little Rock shelter by Sky Pond that helped block the crazy wind. The trail is clean but there are a ton of people hiking it so there’s not much solitude. We did a hotel in Estes Park and drove into the National Park so we could be there bright and early... VERY cute town! Plus it was nice to take a hot shower and sleep in a nice bed after this hike in the cold windy weather!

Wonderful hike! Worth the scramble up the the waterfall.

Great hike! Beautiful small waterfall to be seen after climbing the larger fall immediately before Sky Pond. Scaling this is not difficult. You pass several alpine lakes, which can have mosquitoes during the summer. Marmots at the pond can be aggressive in their pursuit of your pack and snacks.

4 stars on account of the parking situation.

Hiked this today, I'd definitely recommend microspikes. I ran into a lot of people having very bad times on the trail with just shoes. Personally, I turned around right after the waterfall - lots of steepness/ice and I was a bit anxious since snow and ice earlier on the trail had started melting. I did run into a few people who either got to Lake of Glass or all the way to Sky Pond, so it's definitely doable if you know what you're doing.

Hiked this today. Most of the trail is covered in snow and ice— definitely need microspikes, especially for the last half mile. Past Lake of Glass the trail is hard to find. Snow is deep and the path beat in through the snow is not the actual trail and can be hard to follow. Weather was absolutely perfect!

Need spikes! 12 miles.. unable to make it to frozen lake bc of snow. Although the trail won’t ever close, it’s advisable to not take on frozen lake again until the summer. Tough sections for sure but amazing. Many water crossings and bridges :)

My wife and I made it all the way up with only our hiking boots. We both agree that going up with crampons would have been better. We had one slip/fall on an icy decline. Plus going up the water fall just below Lake of Glass was a little dicey, but a decent amount of people made it up and back down. We enjoyed trotting our snow pants up and put them on for the decent so we could “sled” down some of the steeper areas. Others were jealous. Overall we loved our trip. Walked over a frozen lake and Sky pond was just beautiful to celebrate our 5th anniversary.

Really beautiful and super fun, but definitely needed our crampons. Poles would have been helpful on occasion as well. I wouldn’t advise doing this one so late in the season unless you have the right gear for snow and ice.

trail running
2 months ago

Full on winter conditions up there now. Micro-spikes or other traction control would be advisable. The trail is well packed snow/ice. I didn't go further than Sky Pond due to the deep snow.

Beautiful trail!! Couldn’t make it up the waterfall (covered in ice) without crampons but the views were still gorgeous.

As Galen noted below, heavy snow drifts up above Lake of Glass. Difficult to distinguish any trail in the snow. Found myself somewhat unprepared for this level of snow. I felt this trail was overrated, but I bet the experience is better in the summer.

Beautiful. Even with deep snow, the entirety of the hike was wonderful. Moose, Steller’s Jay and lost of views. Scrambled up the frozen waterfall to Lake of Glass, but the trail disappeared into chest-deep snow. Loch Vale was lovely too. Truly, we loved it all.

Great hike, but beware, October brings unpredictable weather. We just hiked this in rain, sleet, and snow. Beautiful views, and amazing colors!

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