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Mill Creek Basin Trail to Bierstadt Lake

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Mill Creek Basin Trail to Bierstadt Lake is a 6.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from May until September.

Length 6.2 mi Elevation gain 1,259 ft Route type Loop

Kid friendly

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Forest

Views

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (65)
Photos (269)
Recordings (50)
Completed (125)
J G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 13, 2020
Hiking

Steep with loose rocks but the lake view at the top is worth it. Ate lunch with friendly ducks and a moose wading in the lake.

View J's Recording
Kelly Jackson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 5, 2020
Hiking

Hiked on 8/1/20. Very easy trail with wonderful nature experiences. We saw 3 massive elk in the meadow at the trailhead, at the lake the ducks will swim right over to you. They rested on the bank of the lake without a care that we were nearby. At the bridge to the Mill Creek campsite, we saw a flying ant hatch on a log. Fascinating. The lake is absolutely stunning and was like a mirror. We started at 600 am which made for a pleasant hike. We done by lunch time. Not many others in the trail.

Megan Stewart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2020

This was a fun hike with gorgeous views at the lake. Parked at Hollowell and there were still spots around 7 am and then when we got back a few hours later. Barely saw another human. They do allow horses and that was obvious throughout the trail, especially the beginning where you have to dodge manure. But still a really nice trail and worth your time.

Russ J.
Gray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Chelsea Robinson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
Hiking

Lovely mini-challenge if you don’t want to fight for parking near Bear Lake. The trail starts off in a sunny meadow with beautiful wildflowers (don’t pick them!) and then increases in grade. The lake at the end was a perfect reward for tired legs.

edward woodhouse
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 6, 2020
HikingGreat!

Started at holloway parking lot and hiked the loop only, approx 4 miles. Really nice along Mill Creek, used it to cool down. We hiked the top of the loop first, the elevation was challenging but a great workout! The rest was mostly downhill. Nice variety of meadows,forest, creek and friendly people. Not busy at all, we hiked in the afternoon. 4 miles was enough for us! Great trail. Waved small branches for bug repellent since we forgot the spray. The flies were biting but my new non-chemical invention worked!

Jaime Burton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 25, 2020
Hiking

Great hike! We got to Estes park around 8:00 am on 6/23/20. It was a Tuesday and most of the park had filled up. We dicided to try this trail head since it still had parking. I’m glad we did! We saw very few people until we got to the lake. Actually we saw more wildlife than people, including deer and elk. The lake was pristine and beautiful.

Josh Schmitz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 6, 2020
HikingRocky
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Joanna DHammer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 26, 2019
HikingSnow

Wonderful Christmas hike. To the lake is pretty much up hill, but it makes the hike back pretty easy. Bottom of trail is a bit deceiving to what the trail will be like, we made it all the way to the lake with no snow shoes or micro spikes. Would probably recommend bringing snow shoes for the last bit of the trail by the lakes (if you step off the trail it's about knee high snow) and we definitely found that out several times. The lake was frozen with crazy wind (we had goggles and masks and it was still intense). The weather does change very rapidly in the mountains so be prepared, it was sunny on one side and snow storm on the other. Only saw about 4 other couples hiking. Would still highly recommend this trail.

Laurie Normandeau
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 8, 2019
HikingSnow

There are only a few parking spots but getting there at 7:30am so no problem with parking. Theres an obvious trailhead and we managed to hike almost half the distance in just micro spikes before switching to snowshoes. About a foot of snow but generally packed so easy going. Much of the trail is in the woods protected from the winds. Light snow fall as we reached the Lake. Windy and lake was frozen. Could just see the peaks before the visibility diminished. We only saw 1 other person. The way back was trail breaking and that slowed us a bit but the trail goes up higher and the view cleared to see more mountains. I think the Aspens we saw on the way back must make for a great fall hike. Also saw 7 deer. Total time for the 6.9 miles was just under 4 hours.

View Laurie's Recording
Sally U.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 18, 2019
HikingBugsNo shadeRocky

The scenery is so beautiful on this trail, but I did not like the actual trail very much. I don’t know if it was because we were exhausted from yesterday’s hike up to Timber Lake, but this trail sure had some challenges! The beginning is very exposed and it was hot today, so be prepared to be out in whatever weather there is. It turns into a pretty, wooded trail by the river that’s partially exposed, but has shaded spots throughout. The trail to the lake is obviously uphill, but what I didn’t like was that at least half was loose rocks and lots of roots - lots to trip on and challenging terrain. Lots of steps, either large rocks or wood logs to climb up, so make sure your legs are prepared to climb up things up the trail. I tripped over a rock about a half mile from the lake & fell on both knees. Luckily I was wearing pants so the damage was minimal. Really watch where you’re going. There were a lot of bugs - mosquitoes, bees, flies, locusts/grasshoppers and butterflies. Bug spray seemed to help, but they still got in my face. The lake is beautiful and there’s several spots to get right up to the lake and many places to sit. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but there were 2 friendly ducks that came within a few feet of us. There were maybe a dozen people around the lake when we were there, so it’s pretty peaceful. I enjoyed it. We started on the trail around the lake going to the left, but there’s so many trails leading to the lake, it’s a little confusing where to go. We just looked for the trail markers & horse poop to find the trail. we didn’t go the full loop before deciding to turn back. The scenery is fantastic on this trail, but we will probably not do it again. There’s several other trails to Bierstadt Lake, so if we need to go back, we’ll most likely take another trail.

View Sally's Recording
Catherine S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 17, 2019
Hiking

Great easy hike up to Bierstadt Lake. No snow, lake is completely thawed. Not crowded, at least on a Monday. Definitely recommend as an alternate route up to Bierstadt Lake.

Scott & Shauna Hart
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 31, 2019
Backpacking

Only went to mill creek campground for the night. The trail along side of the cascade was great!

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Gaby Isturiz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 26, 2019
Hiking

Beautiful lake! You can hike it from the more popular Bierstadt Trailhead and it is shorter, but lot probably fills up faster. We did this hike 5/25, only about 15 spots at trailhead but wasn’t too busy. Hike was great, around mile 2 we hit snow and didn’t have spikes, but made it fine with caution. I imagine in another week or two it will melt enough to get around on the sides. The trail surprisingly wasn’t muddy at all. The lake is absolutely beautiful!

Amy E
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 1, 2019
HikingSnow

Snow shoeing made it more than it was just because without all trails, you’d have no idea where trail was.

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Leya Van Os
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 7, 2018
Hiking

Parked our car at Hollowell, hiked up this trail to Bierstadt lake and took the Bierstadt Lake trail down to where we could catch a bus back to our car at Hollowell :) Going up is not the easiest seeing that after passing the meadow, the trail is 90% uphill — including the stretch towards Bierstadt Lake (it flattens out right near the lake). And even if though the hike up was hard (especially with my asthma), the surroundings were so beautiful. Also, with our specific route, it was so rewarding and relaxing to make it to the lake and then hike completely downhill on the Bierstadt Lake trail.

Matt Nugent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 26, 2018
Hiking

Hiked this out of Bierstadt Lake yesterday, 5/25/18. Beautiful, easy hike along the stream. Good opportunities for photos. Trail was packed dirt or rocks and was clear to Hollowell. Make sure to watch for the orange trail markers. There are a few places where the trail spiderwebs a bit.

Tony Figueiredo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 26, 2018
Hiking

Nice, quiet and easy trail following the creek. Narrow at points, some elevation gain, but nothing too bad at all. A suggestion would be once you hit the end, before you cross the log toward the campsite, take a left and there is a small splitting fall that was pretty interesting, and a little further than that there was another one.

Gar Green
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 22, 2017
Backpacking

Fairly easy if you are half way in shape. It is an uphill climb. Spent the night at the Upper Mill Creek site then visited Bierstadt lake before hiking out.

Danielle Dominguez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 26, 2017

Beautiful hike along a creek over mostly flat trail which makes it excellent for a family hike with small children. For those who want to make it into a longer hike definitely recommend heading over to Biersdat Lake for gorgeous lake/mountain views on the north east side of lake.

Sarah Couch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 20, 2017
Hiking

Easygoing hike/snowshoe. Snow was mostly slushy and often not covering the trail. We tried with our snowshoes at first but had to take them off and stash them. Good winter boots and poles are a must at this time of year.

Nicholas G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 29, 2016
Hiking
First to Review

Trail leading there from bear lake was relatively difficult. A lot of rocks and inclines/declines. Coming to the basin was very satisfying as you are surrounded by beautiful aspen trees.

Colleen Stuhlman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 11, 2020
Hiking
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Adam Karavas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 10, 2020
Hiking
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Elodie Kwan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking
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Claude Paquin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 3, 2020
Hiking
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John DeLozier
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
Hiking
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Mike L
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 28, 2020
Hiking
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