Black Lake Trail

HARD 110 reviews
#27 of 185 trails in

Black Lake Trail is a 9.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

9.7 miles
1,643 feet
Out & Back



nature trips







wild flowers





no dogs

RMNP has an entrance fee of $20.

11 days ago

We did this hike today. Got to trailhead at 630 and got to Black Lake by 1000 am!! The parking lot was empty and hardly anyone on the trails. By the time we returned, there was high traffic on the trails and the parking lot was full.

The views the entire time was gorgeous! You pass by Alberta falls, Loch Lake, and several more smaller water before you get to the lake. The hike itself is more moderate then difficult. We made it difficult for ourselves when we lost the trail and climbed the side of the waterfall to get to black lake. Upon getting there, we realiZed there was a trail that we missed that we could have taken to avoid climbing the waterfall. The lake itself was gorgeous, surrounded by Mountains. The last mile was the toughest but did not involve any rock scrambling, just more inclined steps. Overall it was a good hike, wished it was more difficult though.

1 month ago

Last mile to the lake is the toughest

2 months ago

My wife and I did this trail after hiking to Lake Haiyaha. You have to go around Mills Lake first. Great views of Long’s Peak and Keyboards of the Wind among other peaks. Very pretty with lots of wildflowers. The falls from the outlet of Black Lake is very cool. Fairly tiring due to distance - remember you have to come back also - and the elevation gain. Detoured by Alberta Falls on the way back.

2 months ago

beutiful, the last mile is the hardest and most challenging

3 months ago

Clear trails all the way through. Rocky and rough in spots but overall a very enjoyable and beautiful hike.

4 months ago

Hiked Black Lake Trail today...amazing Views the whole way up and did not disappoint. Wish I would have taken microsPikes but still made it in tennies.

6 months ago

Trailhead @ 7:30 to get a jump on the weather. Trail up to Mills Pond with hardpack and spikes highly recommended. Trail from Mills Pond to Black Lake was easy to find but not packed. Snowshoes needed on the way up. Made it to the Black Lake then up the wash to Blue Lake. Was turned back when the weather changed with wind, snow and sleet. On the way back, the trail was well packed due to high traffic. Wear spikes, bring snowshoes just in case. Great hike and looking forward to doing it in the summer.

7 months ago

Snowshoed up to Black Lake. Trail was hard packed most of the way and switched to micro-spikes for return trip - but snowshoes were helpful for the steep parts of trail ascending to the lake. Round trip took about 5.5 hours with a stop for lunch on the frozen lake. Really beautiful with all of the awesome peaks that frame the basin in which the lake sits.

9 months ago

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.

9 months ago

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.

10 months ago

need microspikes.. postholing towards the top and gets a little sketchy climbing next to the frozen water near black lake but doable . very pretty . beautiful lakes
check out the frozen water to the South when you get to black lake. follow the footprints so you don't sink in the snow! all the lakes are frozen.. just walk straight across them instead of the trail. started at 9am made it to black lake at 11:30 left at 12:20 arrived at glacier gorge trailhead by 2:30?

10 months ago

This is definitely a difficult trail to do in the snow! Highly recommend you have the proper equipment (snowshoes, crampons, etc). Totally worth it though!

11 months ago

Great hike...a bit of snow and ice between Mills and Black. Bring yak tracks or poles.

11 months ago

Hiked it late October. Ice and snow on the trail. Had to slide down from Black Lake on our butts due to the snow. Everything was gorgeous and breathtaking. A really tremendous hike.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Beautiful views! Be aware of snow and ice on the trail right now. It can get pretty slippery and difficult towards the end of the trail.

If the parking lot is full at the trailhead, go back about 1/4 of a mile and use the small lot. You can walk up the side of the road and then cut through the trees to get to the trailhead quickly.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Really nice trail.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This trail which also goes by Mills and Jewel Lake is beautiful. some of the best lake views in the park.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Really cool, four of my friends and I all climbed up in early June and there was a lot of snow with no discernable path. Still had great views at the top.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mills Lake (on the way) is fantastic - highly recommended for a short to moderate hike. Black Lake was also beautiful, and the elevation gain to both points was totally manageable; didn't feel too steep. The trail has a lot of downed trees and mud after Mills Lake, but the path has been well cleared.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My first trail. Hiked in July 4 weekend and will definitely do again... with proper gear (hiking boots and trekking poles). Absolutely beautiful!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Did this with my daughter a week ago. Fairly easy trail,a little snow towards the top(no micros necessary). The lake is absolutely beautiful and lots of waterfalls on the way up. Went about halfway towards frozen lake before turning around. Great day, get there early as parking fills up quick. We hit the trail at 6:15am and lot was full

Monday, July 24, 2017

Awesome trail!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amazing views at every turn. Trail was wet and sloppy especially the closer we got to Black Lake. No need to bring the ice trekkers, but bug spray is a must

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Once you get past Alberta Falls, the traffic really drops off which I really appreciated. We hiked past Mills Lake and then onto Black Lake. Both lakes, rivers, views were incredible. It took us 3.5 hours from Glacier Gorge bus stop to reach Black Lake, enjoyed lunch, then headed down.

The actual trail was easy to keep on the right path. Some places were a little challenging but fun.

We saw a marmot, chipmunks. A lady we past, said she saw 9 elk but we never saw them.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lovely. Lot at Glacier Gorge Trailhead was already full at 7am, but despite that, the trail was not as crowded as I had feared. The snow has melted off almost completely. No need for spikes.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hard long trail but worth the time and effort

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Outstanding hike! My new favorite in RMNP! I loved the view of Black Lake with all of the waterfalls above! Absolutely spectacular! We got to see a huge male elk on the way there and back.

We definitely weren't prepared for all of the snow! It was VERY slippery--we were sliding all over the place. Traction (microspikes/yaktrax) and poles would have made it a lot safer. It was pretty dangerous when we were sliding in the snow on the way down.

The trailhead lot was full at 7:30 so we parked in the shuttle lot.
Overall, an outstanding hike! Highly recommend!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Great hike. Really strenuous closer to the top when you're post holing (did this June of last year). I was a bit under the weather which made it bit more difficult plus altitude. Lakes are beautiful all the way up - a lot less novice hikers after you pass the lower lakes as the trail gets quite a bit more difficult for that last stretch.
There are bears on the trail! A guy behind us almost ran head long into one. Come prepared for weather and make sure to leave early enough in the day. A few other hikers were behind us with no packs or jackets which was worrisome with storms rolling in. Highly recommend this beauty - just bring a standard day pack and be prepared for mountain weather!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Moderate trail, which only gets slightly difficult going to Black Lake, but mostly due to the snow. Many tourists on the trail all the way up to Mill's lake, which was the most beautiful part. Completed in less than 4 hours. Not worth dealing with parking situation and the crowds for serious hikers.

Friday, June 30, 2017

6/29/17 - Amazing hike! Has it all. Last ~1/3mi is mostly packed snow, some bare trail. Follow the footprints in the snow to keep the trail. Spikes might be nice but not necessary. Steep snow slope at the end of the hike right before the lake. Fun to slide down after viewing the spectacular scenery.

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