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Bear Lake to Alberta Falls to Mills Lake

moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(171)
Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake to Alberta Falls to Mills Lake is a 5.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and horses and is best used from June until September. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 5.4 mi Elevation gain 938 ft Route type Out & Back

Kid friendly

Hiking

Horseback riding

Nature trips

Forest

Lake

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (3)

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 (171)
Photos (2205)
Recordings (135)
Completed (2174)
Brad Satterfield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 11 2020
Hiking

Popular trail between Bear Lake and Alberta Falls. Crowd thins out between the falls and Mills Lake. Varied terrain with inclines and declines, great views. Mills Lake is beautiful and the fishing was good.

Allie Lillich
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingRocky

Arrived at 6am and the lot was full so we had to park at Bear Lake. Mills lake was gorgeous. Hike was pretty easy.

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Michael Faulkner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Nice trail. Did this on 7/5. Started at 6am, and finished around 9:30am. Fairly crowded on the way back, so glad I got out early.

Nick Shea
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

Pretty easy hike for being ranked as moderate. Mills lake is gorgeous

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Adam Meltzer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

What a beautiful shady trail. Spectacular views.

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Jason Long
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

we only hiked to Mills lake. we used this as our introduction hike to get acclimated to the altitude. Great little hike, nice views and beautiful lake. the waterfall is difficult to see.

View Jason's Recording
Lucas Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 27 2020
HikingBugs

Great trail today, Bear lake was busy, Alberta falls was raging and beautiful, Mills lake was spectacular!! Was only us and a father and his kids and they found a snow bank and had a snow ball fight. Mills lake is well worth the hike. Highly recommended

Elle Driscoll
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 18 2020
HikingRocky

Hiked this with a 2 year old, 4 yo twins, 5 yo twins, a 6 yo old and 11 yo old - it’s a great hike and so beautiful. The waterfall was powerful and the feeling in the air was fresh. It was a good hike for all. We made it to the junction that marked 1 more mile to go to Mills Lake. But with the time (4:45pm) and the clouds opening up, we took a vote to turn back. Our pace with 7 kids was just too slow with the temps dropping and being wet. Great hike though...very enjoyable. It was a gorgeous overcast day with sun peeking out occasionally. Will have to come back again and make it all the way to Mills lake.

View Elle's Recording
Laura Rushing
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jun 17 2020
Hiking

Completed Emerald Lake B2B Bear Lake to Alberta Falls to Mills Lake. We got to the park at 915 and the lots were already full so did the Park and Ride. We waited about 25mins in the shuttle line which isn’t bad at all considering limited capacity. Bring your masks. Alberta Falls to Mills Lake was amazing. The trail was busy but rewarding and most hikers wore face coverings for passing each other by. Stunning mountain views, partly shaded, and Mills Lake was so serene. And breath taking. We even stumbled across an elk at the lake - 15 yards from it - and watched as it swam across the lake after grazing for 10mins near a few of us. Some parts are muddy and slick. And for the love of God and Nature please stop feeding the chipmunks and other wildlife for photo ops. Chipmunks were begging ever hiker for food

Kelsey Reilly
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 15 2020
Hiking

Trail was awesome! Got there right at noon and (luckily) was able to snag a spot in Bear Lake parking lot. Trail was definitely not as busy due to the timed entries but still plenty of people. The views at Mills lake were totally worth it. We stopped at the top and watched some people fish and put our feet in the water before heading back down. 13 year old and 10 year old were able to do it. Definitely would recommend!

Gary Wilson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 04 2020
HikingSnow

Amazing hike. Glacier gorge lot full at 8am on Wednesday. Bear lake lot had plenty of space. Snow for the last mile. Got hit with some hail for about 30 minutes.

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John Lester
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Feb 15 2020
Snowshoeing

Great winter hike. While snowshoes weren’t necessary, they help a lot! Snow was dead and lose just off the sides of the trail so passing could be a problem. Still pretty busy on the trails so get there early if you want a good parking spot.

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JoAnn Eaton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Dec 28 2019
Hiking

June 2019. We had the craziest weather! The trail still had snow on it and as we got to the trail head to park it was snowing. The falls were beautiful. After we passed that point the number of people on trail decreased. Our trek out to the lake at the very end was still snow covered and required some careful footing. Such an amazing hike!

Colton Aaron
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Dec 01 2019
HikingSnow
View Colton's Recording
P I
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Oct 06 2019
Hiking

My favorite hike in RMNP so far. Amazing views the entire hike. Absolutely beautiful! Will definitely be returning.

Sean McNeil
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 21 2019
Hiking

Beautiful views, aspens are starting to turn yellow which is amazing. Bottom half is very crowded. Please stay on the trail and don’t damage the environment!

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Vicky Dobbs
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Aug 11 2019
Hiking

Exactly what we wanted! Nice distance. Lake, waterfall, lake, mountains and streams. Lightly rained on us 2nd half.

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Nancy Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Aug 10 2019
Hiking

Beautiful, but pretty crowded. We got there at 7:45 am and had to take the shuttle. Once we got to Mills Lake it was very buggy. Bring bug spray!

Jeremy Writebol
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Aug 09 2019
HikingBugs

Mills Lake is the best view in RMNP. The hike is a great one and very doable. A lot of ascent to begin with but levels off by about the 2 mile mark. Lots of mosquitos on the upper part of the trail near the lake. Go early (before 7am) to get a parking spot at Bear Lake. Great hike.

Annie LeBlanc
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Aug 06 2019
Hiking

We’ve done this hike before and it was beautiful - wanted to take our kids to it this year. Tried to go to the park and ride at about 8:20 this morning and it was already full. So go early! Will try another day. Fern lake trailhead had parking for other hikes.

Katy W.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 22 2019
Hiking

Mills Lake is something out of a fairytale. Crisp water, beautiful views, and once you pass the falls, the trail is less populated. Climbing over the boulders is easy but you can easily loose the trail near the end.

Jason Kretz
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jun 20 2019
Hiking

We went up today and it was beautiful. There were quite a few people until the falls. There was minimal snow on the trail close to the lake but no big deal at all. We enjoy eating and resting by the lake...very peaceful!

Jess H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 09 2019
Hiking

Snowy after Alberta Falls, but manageable without spikes. Beautiful weather

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Daria F.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri May 31 2019
Snow

There's still snow on the trail so spikes are needed. The lake is very beautiful though so it's worth the trip. We saw some wildlife along the way as well.

Ashley Pentecost
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 26 2019
HikingSnow

5/25/19 Perfect day for a snowy hike! Yak tracks are definitely recommended, as the slushy snow is turning to ice + a bit slippery!

Melissa Izu
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Apr 22 2019
Snow

4/15/2019 Bear Lake frozen, lots of snow on trail. Snow was packed down pretty well, we were able to do without spikes but did wish we had them as some spots were pretty slippery. Still beautiful!

brittany maccartney
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Apr 16 2019
Hiking

Definitely need snow spikes, We made it to the top without snow shoes- but having would have been helpful for the to ascents to both of the top lakes.

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Drew Horwath
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 24 2019
HikingSnow

Best hike I’ve done in Colorado. Albeit I haven’t hiked much besides red rocks and mt Galbraith. I would recommend yaktrax if your doing it in the snow. Great view of loch lake and the surrounding mountains.

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Mackenzie Ellison
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 03 2019

Did this trail in the summer. be sure to go early in the morning to avoid big crowds. Gorgeous views!

Jessica Durand
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Mar 02 2019
Hiking

Did this hike today and it was pretty snow packed. Used crampons most of the way and then lost the trail about 1.5 miles in. Cut my way along the river after meeting up with some other lost souls. At this point needed my snowshoes. We ended up meeting up with the main trail and headed up to mills. Pretty steep ascent the last half a mile. Definitely recommend snowshoes and poles to get to the top (although I didn’t have poles I could have used them). All in all for a winter hike it’s doable in good conditions. Took me about 3.5 hours!

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