Explore the most popular cross country skiing trails in Rocky Mountain National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Regrettably, I did not bring spikes for this trek. We had the intentions of going to Black Lake but had to turn around just passed Mills because 1) the snow was extremely challenging 2) we kept losing the trail due to snow and lack of markers and 3) ran into signs of wildlife I wasn’t in the mood for dealing with. The weather was AMAZING and though it’s still not warm enough for a total snow melt it was still one of my new favorite hikes. Jaw dropping views and wild life to spot on the way up.

The views at Mills Lake are spectacular. Microspikes and hiking poles were needed until Mills Lake. We started hiking to Black Lake but had to turn around as we had not brought snowshoes and the snow was waist deep in some locations.

This is a phenomenal hike in RMNP that I will definitely be revisiting to complete the trek up to Black and Frozen Lake.

The only reason I gave this hike a 4 out of 5 stars and not a 5 out of 5 is because there is no sign indicating where you need to turn off to go to Mills Lake, as opposed to continuing on to Loch Lake. Incidentally, I made the trek up to Loch Lake, only to find out that I had been there before (I did the Sky Pond Trail back in March of last year). This was incredibly frustrating as I had to backtrack about a mile and cross a small bridge to continue my trek to Mills Lake.

The snow on the ground certainly may have contributed to my inability to follow the trail, but there should be a sign at the bridge notifying hikers which destination is where.

The views from the lake were magnificent and there were only a few hikers on the trail midday on a Monday. However, on my way back to the trailhead I saw multiple families and couples attempting to concur some shorter hikes like Alberta Falls.

I did this trek with just my micro-spikes and was quite comfortable trekking through the snow. I saw some people in snowshoes, which may have been helpful, but certainly not necessary.

Definitely a worthwhile hike that I would do again later in the summer when the snow has melted and the trail is a bit easier to follow.

Did it today (sat April 28) but just did the hike to mills lake only (about 5-6 miles round trip). Def still need crampons or if u don’t have at least use ski poles or hiking sticks. Lots of snow still. So beautiful at the lake. Dress in layers it’s gets windy at the lake if the sun goes away. Also don’t park at Bear lake park at the spot before. The groove I think. Save urself 0.5 miles each way. Also if ur not there at like 8 am they will block off the road down till 2 pm. We got lucky and got in at 2:30. Worth the wait.

Had a beautiful hike today! I made it to black lake and it was great. Started at the trailhead at 8:45 and got back about 1:15. I would’ve liked to take more breaks but I was racing a storm so I had to hustle. The trails were completely covered with snow but packed well enough that you weren’t falling through every other step. I had crampons which were a huge help. After Mills Lake the trail levels out for a bit but the final push to Black Lake is pretty steep. I was very lucky that I had the whole trail all by myself.

Hiked it April 21 and snowshoes or skis are a must, unless you want to sink in the snow, especially at the higher elevations. It was very windy above the treeline and I lost the trail, but just keep heading up. Spectacular views, although the clouds were rolling in, but the sun split through the clouds. I want to do this trail again.

Only made it to Mills Lake, but it was beautiful. The weather can still be incredibly cold in the morning, but warms up significantly during the day. The trail conditions were a little sketchy at parts if you're not wearing crampons or snowshoes, but it's doable. Just prepare to sink into some soft spots. Especially once you get to the higher elevations.

Only went as far as Mills Lake, but we hope to go farther next time. This hike is amazing. We saw bighorn sheep on the mountaintops above us, so don't forget to look up while you're there.

Pretty tiring uphill hike micro spikes might be a good idea very icy on the way down but extremely beautiful view at the top

We started at 7:30am and attempted to summit on 3/24/18 but were forced to turn around shortly after clearing the trees due to high winds. We have never hiked this trail in the summer and were unfamiliar with the trail and with blowing snow, not only could we not see the trail up, but more importantly would not have been able to follow any tracks back down. Also, we had read several reviews that snowshoes were not necessary on this hike, but in our opinion that could not have been further from the truth. We were very disappointed not to have brought them. I literally fell waste deep into the snow at one point just having stepped two feet off the trail. And the trail itself was not nearly as hard packed as we were lead to believe. Lesson here: take your snowshoes!!

Got out today, 2/7, snowshoes are an absolute must. Even with them we sank knee deep in some spots. This was my first winter hike/snowshoeing experience. Had to stop about a mile from the top because the winds were just too much and I was running out of gas. Would absolutely hike again the views are stunning, bummed we couldn't reach the top.

HIked on 3/17. SUPER crowded. No snow.

HIked on 3/17. Connected from Bierstad to Bear lake. Trail fairly well packed. Snowshoes/skis not required, but you can use (snow is deep enough). We used hiking boots/trail shoes. No microspikes required.

snowshoeing
2 months ago

Fantastic hike/snowshoe! Beyond gorgeous day with no wind. Used yak traks up to the dream lake overlook, snowshoed down through tons of powder off trail. Highly recommend!!

cross country skiing
3 months ago

Tried this on cross country skis on Feb 17 2018 and it was a mixed bag. Plenty of snow once you got to the actual trailhead (about a mile from the closed road/parking area), but very narrow and steep in places. This made skiing up awkward and skiing down pretty tricky. Some parts of the trail are on the side of a hill, making it difficult to keep from sliding off going up or down. Only made it as far as Ouzel falls. Fun, but snowshoes would serve you better.

Went on 2/16/18, the trail is covered in snow and large snow drifts. You can kind of tell where the trail should be, stay on it or you will post hole if you're not wearing snow shoes or skis. I downloaded the map and referred to the Alltrails app often to make sure I was on course, it was a huge help! I made it to the frozen lake, it was cold and windy so I didn't stay long.

Went to Jewel Lake. Not much snow, but enough we were glad to have snow shoes. Lakes are starting to freeze but still mushy in spots.

hiking
4 months ago

First time winter hike in Rockies on snow pack. I hiked this trail during the summer but his trip was completely different. Views were even more magnificent with snow features! Also my first hike where I needed my micro-spikes....glad I had them. A few people were also wearing snow shoes. The snow was well packed if you walked in the middle of the trail but one misstep to either side and you would easily sink 12” or more. Plenty of snow until we got above the tree line then it was very thin to none in spots. A few skiers we saw were very disappointed. We accidentally ventured off the trail twice and paid the price with a steep hike directly up. Stay on the trail! As always, the views did not disappoint. Enjoy and hike smart!

hiking
4 months ago

It was a pretty good workout for a 58 year old that wasn't in great shape. Getting next to a couple glaciers was neat and eating lunch on Continental Divide was something that not everyone has done. Now I have! After breaking above treeline, you think the top is getting close but it is another mile (approximately) and several rest stops away. Excellent views all around from the top! Forgot to mention that I hiked this trail at the end of August, 2017.

Just went to Black Lake and holy cow it was gorgeous!! Only microspikes necessary (1/4/18) on most of the trail. We got off on a different trail split off on the descent from Black to Jewel and that one had us post holing waist deep in certain spots. Windy at the top but beautiful otherwise. Took us 5.5 hrs with plenty of stops for photos and to mozy out on the frozen lakes.

Hiked to Black Lake yesterday from Glacier Gorge Trailhead just below Bear Lake. The trail was snow covered the entire way to Mills Lake, except for a couple small bare areas exposed to sun/win. Snow on the trail was packed pretty well so I was fine with micro spikes all the way to Jewel Lake. Once past Jewel the trail pretty much disappeared into deep powder and snow drifts. I wouldn't have gotten any farther than Jewel without snowshoes and poles. I followed where i knew the trial to be as best i could, the snow was thigh deep in places. The falls were weren't bad to get up, but again traction and snow shoes were necessary. Weather was sunny and beautiful, cold when you stopped for very long and really windy up high and at all three lakes. The wind has probably erased some portions of the trail but at least 5 other hikers headed up too, so the trail might be fairly obvious in places. Once back down to Mills I ditched the snowshoes for micro spikes and got down easily. Not too busy, great day.

I hiked this yesterday. Microspikes were all that was needed. The wind above tree line, however, had everyone turning around. I got blown over twice on the ice and had all the gear possible, ski goggles, balaclava, two coats, gaiters, blah, blah, blah. Still too cold at the top.

Exciting hike, definitely recommend. Started around 5am for the sunrise and added Hallett Peak. Violent above tree-line this morning and the wind concealed any remnants of a trail with snow. Be sure to leave your own mini cairns for the way down, it can be tricky finding your way back with the wind and “found” several areas of waist high snow. Surely worth it.

This was a great physical workout. Beautiful views, for sure. Wore micro-spikes, but I probably could've fared without. Didn't make it to the top due to the trail being blown over and difficult to find, plus I was short on time. However I know others did summit. I would do this trail again and add Hallet with it.

I went two weeks ago. The trail was icy and/or snowy in most sections. I wore micro spikes and had no difficulty. It’s a very beautiful hike especially going down glacier gorge to Mill and Jewel lakes. I turned back after Jewel due to time constraints. It was one of the nicest hikes I’ve done at the park.

So gorgeous. Made the extra 0.7 miles to the top of Hallett and it was definitely worth it! I was fine with just microspikes and the trail is a mix of ice, deeper snow, hard pack, and rock. Found a lone yaktrak contact me at rachelsaggau@gmail.com if you lost one!

hiking
5 months ago

Awesome hike. Pack of snow and ice for most of the trail. Need to use micro-spikes all the way up until above treeline. No snow at top but very windy,a few more layers will help. The trail is on moose territory, there are 3 of them, Watch out for that. All day, met only 2 groups of hikers.

Great hike up to the summit. Started before sunrise, and made it down by midday. The trail is icy at lower altitudes and the snow gets deep above the tree line if you stray from the trail (which is fairly easy to do). Try to spot the cairns, and when in doubt just keep climbing upwards. I’d recommend spikes and gaiters. The wind was pretty nasty up high as well, so proper cold weather gear is a must.

Very challenging! Did Flat Top to Hallett Peak. Started early in the mornin and was back down by lunch but man - great workout! Epic views!

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