Mills Lake, Black Lake, Frozen Lake Trail [CLOSED]

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

Distance: 11.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,529 feet Route Type: Out & Back

cross country skiing

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

snow

closed

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.

hiking
snow
7 days ago

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.

hiking
snow
3 months ago

Amazing

snowshoeing
snow
3 months 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
off trail
snow
4 months ago

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.

snowshoeing
snow
4 months ago

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!!!

snowshoeing
off trail
snow
4 months ago

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.

hiking
snow
4 months ago

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.

hiking
off trail
snow
4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Strenuous to say the last but Black Lake is absolutely stunning

snow
5 months ago

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.

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

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

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

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.

hiking
7 months ago

One of my favorite trails.

hiking
icy
snow
7 months ago

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.

hiking
7 months ago

one of my favorite hikes

hiking
7 months ago

Most beautiful trail in RMNP. Be sure to take you fly rod.

hiking
off trail
rocky
7 months ago

The black lake is gorgeous. It was hard to find the trail from black lake to the frozen pond. The view once on top was amazing. Definitely needs to make sure you’re comfortable with climbing and finding trails.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Gorgeous trail! Still one of my favorites. Not for the faint of heart.

hiking
scramble
7 months ago

Mills lake was probably the best view I've seen in CO. The rest of the hike up to Black Lake was a bit tedious, but there's a bit of an optional scramble at the top which was really cool.

hiking
8 months ago

About me: from Iowa, late 30s, and fairly fit. Beautiful hike. Did this on 9/26/19. Starting temp was 50, ending temp 70. Got to trailhead at 7am (on a Wed), plenty of parking. We only went to Black (10 miles RT) since this was our first day of hiking and we had other big hikes planned. Took 7 hours with a lot of photography stops and a 30 minute lunch break at Black. Was super windy at Black so I was glad to have gloves and an insulated jacket along. Drank 2.5L on the hike. This hike has a lot of steps not just gradual incline. Got some beautiful photos with lots of great lighting since we did the hike early.

hiking
8 months ago

Never felt so compelled to write a trail review. God what a beautiful trail. Difficult past Black lake and up toward Frozen-- lots of elevation gain, difficult trail to follow-- but that's to be expected in the tundra. The hike up to Frozen takes you through glacier gorge itself and the scenery is absolutely spectacular and breathtaking. Frozen lake is pretty-- almost suspended in the sky-- but the hike up is the best part. I also love this hike because Mills lake is my favorite in the park and you get to see it along the way. spectacular

Nice hike through forested and meadowed trail taking you by Mills and Jewel Lake. Plan on a constant uphill trip beyond Jewel. Black lake sits in a deep basin.

hiking
8 months ago

Wow...this is the hike. Started at Bear Lake and breezed past Alberta falls at sunrise. No crowd at all. Mills lake is the most beautiful lake in my opinion. Teaming with nice trout. Serene lake and so peaceful early in the morning. Past Mills the trail becomes much more challenging and almost nobody on the trail up to Black. Saw one couple who were headed to Solitude. Deep woods trail, hiking across slanted boulders, and those nice wooden steps placed in otherwise muddy areas is a nice touch. Beautiful mini falls along the way and a scramble up to Black lake. Nice spot for lunch and the views back down the valley were stunning. And the multi peak views above the waterfall...incredible. Took us old flat landers 7 hours out and back with many stops to catch our breath going up. If you are going to one lake hike...this is it. Just don’t try in the rain as it would really be difficult unless you are an experienced hiker. Hiking poles were VERY helpful for us oldies and could not have done without this.

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