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Mills Lake, Black Lake, Frozen Lake Trail is a 11 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, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing and is best used from May until October.

Length 11.0 mi Elevation gain 2,529 ft Route type Out & Back

Cross country skiing

Hiking

Snowshoeing

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Muddy

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Getting There

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.

Take Hwy. 36 out of Estes Park to RMNP entrance, then go to Bear Lake Rd. and follow it to Glacier Gorge TH.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (451)
Photos (2491)
Recordings (179)
Completed (1333)
Ingrid Hockenberry
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

Beautiful hike. No trail once you get past the waterfalls after Black, as others have said. I found myself straight rock climbing. I also went to green and blue. Highly recommend them both.

View Ingrid's Recording
Kevin Allen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020

The second best hike in Colorado imo, after only Ice/Island Lake. Definitely the best in RMNP. Black lake is absolutely stunning, and the entire trail is full of amazing views and several great waterfalls (don't miss a little detour to Ribbon Falls right before black lake!). Tons of wildflowers, endless mountain vistas, and we saw a dozen elk (with babies!) resting just a few feet from the trail. Arrived at 5:30am and only a few parking spots left at Glacier Gorge on 7/3, but doing the hike from Bear Lake parking would work too. Definitely absolutely go up half a mile beyond Black Lake for the overlook on the lake, but I'd say skipping frozen lake (or blue lake, etc) is fine. Bug spray & sunscreen needed. Some snow to cross still, but no problem in any shoes.

Sara Salerno
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 04 2020
HikingOff trailScramble

I hiked this on July 4th, 2020. Left Glacier Gorge trailhead around 5:50 and round trip this was 13.6 miles for me. I was fine up last Black Lake, but getting to Frozen Lake was a challenge. There are cairns EVERYWHERE and it’s very confusing and I wondered around off trail for about a mile. Download the map and pay close attention to it. I will do this again!

Kaylyn Hruska
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 02 2020
Hiking

This is a beautiful trail with gorgeous lakes and scenery. Most of the snow has melted, but there were a few stretches that were slippery and micro spikes were definitely a help. I would recommend downloading the map to frozen lake, we briefly got lost after black lake, and most of the hikers we met were also confused since there were cairns leading in multiple different directions. Frozen lake was extremely windy so pack accordingly!

Ryan Powell
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
HikingOff trailRockyScramble

The trail is mostly in perfect condition! Some snow patches here and there, but nothing boots and trekking poles can’t handle. Great views of course. Similar to sky pond (minus the scramble) but a bit longer and not nearly as crowded :)

View Ryan's Recording
Alina Taniuchi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 15 2020
Hiking

Unbelievably beautiful. Black Lake has got to be one of my favorites now... Hiked today (6/14/20) & brought my snowshoes along on advice from the park rangers at bear lake trailhead. There were large snowy/slushy patches once you get past Mills/Jewel Lake but really didn’t need the snowshoes (nor micro spikes) except maybe the last snowy patch before reaching Frozen Lake (I didn’t want to chance it since I was hiking by myself). Once you get above Black Lake, the trail becomes difficult to find in a wide rocky area with lots of cairns for different trails. GPS is needed, at least at this time of the year. You can see part of the mummy range, blue lake, Longs peak, and hike among 13ers. Highly recommend, but make sure you have lots of water & food, it’s a long one, especially if you start from the Bear Lake trailhead like I did (ended up being just under 15 miles). Also was accompanied by a young elk a few times, she was a sweetie that I don’t think had much experience with humans.

Alexander Ohmes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 11 2020
Hiking

Hiked on 6/11/2020. Need reservation to enter RMNP. Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking lot full by 7:30am. The trail is clear up to Mills Lake. Beyond Mills Lake to Black Lake the trail is still snow-covered, so spikes/Yaktrak and poles are recommended. I hiked beyond Black Lake to Blue Lake, where the trail was still snow-covered, so trail finding skills definitely required.

View Alexander's Recording
Emily Grippin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed May 27 2020
HikingSnow

started at the bear lake trailhead. Up to mills lake the trail was relatively easy to find; a combination of snow and dry patches. However, after passing jewel lake the trail was snowy and slushy with a lot of post holing and maneuvering around fallen trees. The trail was difficult to follow and for most of the trek from jewel lake we were off route. About half a mile from black lake we turned around due to a very steep slope; crampons and an ice axe would have been clutch. Despite the tiring bushwhack on our upper lake attempt, the views were gorgeous, the sky was Colorado bluebird and the weather was rocking.

Koko L.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Mar 02 2020
HikingSnow

Amazing

C Thom
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Feb 23 2020
SnowshoeingSnow

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!!!

Andrew Dahm
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jan 20 2020
HikingOff trailSnow

Made it to Black Lake yesterday morning. Started around 7 and finished around 3. Weather was great. Light snow in the early morning and blue skies by noon. Snow shoes required after crossing Jewel Lake. A lot of route finding required about a mile from Black Lake. No evidence at all of recent hikers about a half mile out. Had to forge our own path. Lake was beautiful. Surface was partially uncovered, exposing the ice. Went about half way up the cascade feeding Black Lake. Decided against going further, but the weather was prime for doing so.

Ann Apple
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jan 20 2020
SnowshoeingSnow

Snowshoed to Black Lake today 1/19. It was a great trail until about a mile from the lake. There was very little wind today and out beautiful Colorado blue skies!!!

Bjorn P.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jan 14 2020
SnowshoeingOff trailSnow

On January 14, 2020: From Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Mills Lake is packed snow, best done with microspikes, though snowshoes are also possible. Walking along the edges of Mills Lake and Jewel Lake felt especially cold even on a sunny day because of the strong gusts of wind blowing snow; I and my fellow hiker put on balaclavas. Beyond Jewel Lake the snow is deeper and requires snowshoes. We followed some snowshoe tracks in the deep snow, but they stopped abruptly about half of the way between Jewel Lake and Black Lake. We tried breaking trail in the deep snow to continue to Black Lake, but even with GPS it was difficult to figure out where the trail was supposed to be. We continued as best we could, but then my fellow hiker postholed into a creek hidden under the snow (probably the creek coming down from Blue Lake) and soaked his shoe. For safety's sake, we returned back the way we came as quickly as possible. In some places along the way back to Jewel Lake, the blowing snow had already almost obscured the tracks we had just made earlier in the afternoon.

Cole Sprague
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jan 09 2020
HikingSnow

Nice mid-week escape to RMNP. Trail from Glacier Gorge TH to Mills Lake did not require snowshoes. Micro spikes are useful though as the trail is pretty well packed. If you continue past Mills to Black Lake then snowshoes are mandatory. Even with snowshoes, I post-holed several times while breaking trail. Weather overall was great with occasional strong/cold wind gusts, but generally mild. Longs looked ultra windy though.

Clay Gardner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jan 05 2020
HikingOff trailSnow
View Clay's Recording
Logan Isaman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Dec 18 2019
Hiking

Strenuous to say the last but Black Lake is absolutely stunning

Nandini Chaturvedi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Dec 08 2019
Snow

Hiked on 12/1. We started around 8am and no issues with parking. Absolutely needed snowshoes. The trail was in good shape but would have been difficult to go alone all the way up. We had a group of 9 and people took turns to break trail. It was a little tiring but totally worth it. Great snowshoeing experience.

Christopher Thoennes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Nov 21 2019
HikingIcySnow

On the trail.... Hiked this yesterday, forgot my yak trax but still very hikeable.... icy rocks by Mills and the wood walkways sneaky slick...couple moose bedded down right before the falls... a beautiful day in park ... as always a privilege to be in one of our nations cathedrals

David Spates
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Nov 16 2019
HikingIcySnow

Hiked this trail up to Black Lake this Saturday. Left the trail head at 5am and got to Mills Lake by 6:15, stopped and took a bunch of pictures for the sunrise. With several stops for taking in the great views, capturing photos and video, made it to Black Lake in about 3 hours. Used micro-spikes and absolutely thought they were necessary to enjoy this hike, although about half the hikers I saw today weren't wearing them. Love this hike and plan on returning to do again this winter.

Megan Hall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 26 2019
Hiking

One of my favorite trails.

Jim Thayer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 26 2019
HikingIcySnow

Did this hike on 10/26/19. Made it all the way to Black Lake. There was snow from start to finish. Trail was very easy to follow up to 1/2 mile from Black Lake. Still some footprints to follow but nothing from earlier in the day. Past Mill Lake but before Black there was a fork in the road, one trail leads left and up...DO NOT TAKE THIS PATH, it is a dead end. Take the path to the right and slightly down. Overall this was a great hike even in winter conditions. I used micro-spikes from the start, snowshoes would have been nice for the last 15 minutes but not necessary.

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