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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, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 9.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,643 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

closed

fee

no dogs

It has been reported this trail has a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Please see the park's website for up to date information. RMNP has an entrance fee of $25. As shown, this trail starts at the Bear Lake parking lot (although you can save about a mile in the round trip by starting instead at the Glacier Gorge parking lot). The first 0.5 mile is a steady descent to the Glacier Gorge parking lot, after which you steadily regain altitude, passing Alberta Falls at 1 mile. At 2.3 miles (after passing the Glacier Knobs on your right), you reach an intersection where you turn left (going straight leads to The Loch), climbing into the entrance to Glacier Gorge at which point the trail levels out somewhat. At 2.7 miles, you reach Mills Lake, then Jewel Lake at 3.2 miles, after which you start upward again, with the last bit more steep, reaching Black Lake at 4.8 miles. All along the gorge, the views are wonderful, with particularly beautiful spots at Mills Lake and finally at Black Lake.

snowshoeing
snow
1 month ago

Hiked/snowshoed on 2/22/2020. It was an absolutely beautiful day- super sunny with minimal wind!!! We wore microspikes from the Bear Lake TH to Jewel Lake, then switched to snowshoes. The trail past Jewel is not as well packed down, so I definitely recommend snowshoes for this section, but it’s packed down enough that you can easily get to Black Lake without having to break trail. I also noticed a lot of postholes in this section, so again bring snowshoes if you have them! We made it all the way to Black Lake, then also trekked up to Blue Lake. The uphill from Black to Blue is no joke, but highly recommend doing it if the wind isn’t too brutal. We started right at 9 and got back to the TH right at 4. Just an absolutely beautiful day- perfect weather conditions!!!

hiking
snow
2 months ago

Hiked from glacier Gorge parking Lot to Black lake, then to above Blue lake. Hiked on New Year’s Eve 2019. Started about 930, finished at 5 PM. Trail all the way to Black Lake was well packed snow. Micro spikes much better than snowshoes. However, a lot of the trail can be done without spikes. Great weather, Sunny and around 20°. Wind wasn’t much of an issue until above black lake. Snowshoes needed above black lake. Extremely gusty winds at times. The type that make you bend over to anchor yourself in place so that you don’t get blown over. Hike from black to blue Lake extremely strenuous.

hiking
rocky
snow
5 months ago

I have done every single other trail out of Bear Lake TH and finally did this one. It is really pretty and varied, with less elevation gain then many of the hikes around here. Really spectacular alpine views from Mills lake and climbing up to black lake. Hiked on October 18. 38° in the parking lot when we arrived and 38° in the parking lot when we left! Light sleet for most of the hike, only clearing around Mills lake on our return. Fun, challenging trail in that the further you go out, the more rugged and primitive the trail becomes. It is still very well engineered all the way to Black Lake, with pavers, bridges and stairs. A bit challenging today due to the sub freezing weather, wind and sleet, as well as slippery snow and ice covered rocks above glacier gorge campsite. We did not have micro spikes and there was only one or two places where they would’ve been useful. Otherwise we used our trekking poles, good hiking boots and lots of warm clothing. Saw less than 10 hikers after Mills lake, and many of them were not dressed appropriately. Bring extra clothing and be smart.

hiking
5 months ago

One of my favorites. love this trail

hiking
fee
muddy
snow
5 months ago

An incredible hike, I would say hard is a little bit of an overstatement. Very do-able and gradual, I would suggest doing it sooner rather that later as itll just get snowier. Very windy, but worth bundling up for.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

This trail is absolutely one of the hardest things I've ever done. as everyone else has said, that last 1.2 mile stretch is a series of uphill climbing that our group thought would take approximately 30-35 minutes, when in reality took closer to an hour. The view is incredible when you reach the top, and definitely makes the climb worth it. The 5 miles back are far easier than the trek to get there.

hiking
5 months ago

Very enjoyable 10 miles. It’s pretty rocky and I’d recommend poles for the return. If you have knee issues I’d 1000% bring poles. But there was elk at black lake and near the trailhead. there were about 10 elk by the TH that didn’t seem to want to move off the path out of the way of people. Lol. I regret not continuing to frozen lake as I’ve heard it’s incredible. Next time. Mills lake is my favorite spot in the whole park. Even at 10am when foot traffic picks up it’s still peaceful. But I would recommend trekking to at least black lake. I started at 7 (only 5 cars in lot) and was back at TH by 1230 with a 20 min moment at each lake. Kids could do this at least to mills.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful trail, both views and shade. Water in the creek sounds wonderful.fall is finally coming to the park.

hiking
5 months ago

I’ve done this a couple of times. It’s one of my favorites in RMNP. Many different views including some forest. Mills Lake is on the way with splendid views of Glacier Gorge. Further on is Black Lake. A perfect glacier lake. Very beautiful and relaxing. Above Black Lake to the east and up the mountain further is Blue, Green and Frozen Lakes. Frozen Lake being The toughest. These trails are unmarked but relatively easy to follow and well worth the effort.

rocky
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

Pretty quiet trail given that the park was packed in the weekend. It was a long way to Black lake but there are multiple lakes/water falls along the way to stop for a break. Definitely watch out for some loose rocks when it gets close to Black Lake. No bug or mosquito at the lake probably because it was windy so they got blown away.

hiking
muddy
rocky
6 months ago

Amazing views of surrounding mountains, including Longs Peak. Take the Fire Trail in order shave off time. It is right after the bridge otw to Alberta Falls. If you take Fire Trail you will miss Alberta Falls but gain valuable time. We can't wait to snowshoe this trail. We didn't make it to Frozen Lake (another 1.2 miles or so up the trail) but next time will. The trail is not that difficult and I would definitely recommend Black Lake for families wanting a nice 9 mile out and back.

Very beautiful hike up to Black Lake, saw some elk right next to the river! Lots of water falls and there is a perfect chill spot to sit right when you get up to black lake. Didn’t make it to frozen lake because of shifting weather.

hiking
bugs
6 months ago

Great trail for serenity and seeing wildlife in the park. Most of the trail traffic stops after Mills Lake so hiking in the early morning can really lead to solitude hiking. The last 1/2 mile has a decent incline but the trail is well maintained and has Great Lake views and even a small waterfall. I saw several elk cows with babies so keep your eyes open as they were pretty close to the trail. Black Lake had some mosquitoes but not brutal like lower elevations.

hiking
7 months ago

Really fun trail. A decent amount of uphill climb that makes you feel like you got in a good solid hike by the time you reach black lake. The views are gorgeous, but the rocks can be slick if it is raining (it rained all morning for us). Mosquitos are bad by the lakes so make sure you have spray. Great hike that is definitely worth the effort!

hiking
7 months ago

We hiked this trail this morning and found all the reviews to be accurate— it is hard, but worth it! The mosquitos are awful at black lake, so be sure to bring bug spray. There was not any snow on the ground this late in summer, but we did get rained on which made negotiating the rocks a bit more tricky. It took us 5 hrs total with some stops along the way. Highly recommend!

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked this today. For me this was a difficult trail. There was a lot of scaling up and accross slanted surfaces. Don't get caught in the rain on this trail as it can get slippery and you will have to walk accross slanted surfaces. Depending on your physical fitness level this could be a 2 to 4 hour hike. The last mile and a half gets rough on your ankles. The ground gets very rocky and there is alot of considering the placement of your feet. Personally the hike was easy for me until the last mile and a half when it turns into the stepmaster from hell. I would say at this point it is 75 percent steep incline with dodging of plenty of roots and rocks. At this time in summer it was friggen hot. 85 degrees plus. Bring sunscreen. Once you are above treeline God save your soul. I had plenty of clothing to protect me but regretted not bringing sunscreen. There are plenty of breaks in the tree line as well. So bring sunscreen. And for when you are in the trees, bring bug repellant. There was a ridiculous amount of mosquitoes.I didn't bring a more portable bug repelant and I regretted it. As soon as you sit down there will be 30 mosquitos swarming you. Now as far as the beauty. I will rate this as tied with Sky Pond as my favorite hike in the park. The star of this show is how black lake reflects one of the most majectic, game of thronsey peaks in the park Arrowhead peak. I literally could not stop taking pictures of black lake and arrowhead in background. Talk about majesty and drama. It's is easily one of the most jaw dropping mountains in the park. Chiefs head sits next to it and is almost as beautiful. On top of that Black Lake offers options to hike to 3 other not well known lakes and is surrounded by more peaks though the two I mentioned are the most easily visible with Arrowhead dominating the background. Sky pond has the most beautiful waterfall. Black lake has the most beautiful peak.

hiking
off trail
rocky
7 months ago

Strongly recommend this beautiful trail. Took us 5 hours to complete the 10mile trail. Took the park n ride from Estes and it was pretty easy and great not to worry about parking inside the park.

hiking
7 months ago

Did this trail yesterday! beautiful hike ...tons of waterfalls ,streams and lakes . lots of mosquito...beware. views incredible

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Beautiful trail!!! Took us almost 5 hours to trek the 10 miles round trip from trail head.

hiking
7 months ago

More of a moderate hike than hard. Made it to Black Lake and back in about 6 hours with 45 minutes taking in the lake’s surroundings. Pretty gentle elevation gain with some spurts of steps that get your legs burning and heart pumping. Recommend starting early to avoid crowds. Had the lake basically to ourselves and saw droves of people heading up when we were coming back down around 9:30am.

hiking
7 months ago

7/30/2019. We did this hike as a final warm up/prep for Longs Peak. This is a very scenic and rigorous hike. The views at Black Lake are incredible. (Be sure to continue to the end of the trail for the best views). The park service is working on bridges/walkways over low areas which are nearly complete. This was a 4 hour round trip for us but we pushed fairly hard with a 30 min break once at a Black Lake. In my opinion, Black Lake is the most beautiful in the Park.

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