Trail Snapshot: Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hike Distance: 5.6 mile Round Trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Duration: Approx 2-3 hrs Round Trip
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Starting Elevation: 9240′ at Trailhead
- Elevation Gain: +750′
- Seasons: May-September
- Dogs: Prohibited in RMNP
- Hike Trail Map: Click for a Map of Mills Lake in Glacier Gorge
- Denver Drive Time: 2 hr
- Driving Directions to Glacier Gorge Trailhead: Click for Google Map
- Town Nearest Hike: Estes Park, Colorado
- Beauty: Waterfall, wildlife: elk, deer, marmots; meadows, lakes, streams, wildflowers, aspen trees
- Activities: Hiking, photography
- Fee: Park Pass Required
Parking & Trailhead Information for Mills Lake RMNP
The trail up to Mills begins at either the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (see driving directions above), or at the Bear Lake Trailhead (driving directions). Because the Glacier Gorge Trailhead has more limited parking, you may need to drive further up to Bear Lake. There you’ll find a short connector trail that will put you on the path to the Glacier Gorge Trail system. In the event that parking at Bear Lake is full, you’ll then need to park at the Park & Ride near the Bierstadt Trailhead and take the bus into the trailhead. This service runs 7am to 7PM and more information on the RMNP shuttle bus routes can be found at this link.
The Hike to Mills Lake RMNP
The first destination–and one you can’t miss because it’s right along the trail–is at .8 miles, Alberta Falls. After the waterfall, the trail climbs toward an eventual trail junction. The way to Mills Lake is to follow the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vale trail that bears right. This trail ascends for about another half mile to a second major trail junction with three options. The left-hand trail leads into Glacier Gorge and to Mills Lake.
Photographers will find Mills Lake an equally perfect place to make that big catch. The lake, in the early morning hours, can be placid enough to reflect the backdrop of the beautiful east ridge of Glacier Gorge that has been named, the Keyboard of the Winds.
Tips & Resources for Hiking Mills Lake RMNP :
- Bugs: You might need a bug spray in the summer months when the mosquitos multiply.
- Parking Tip: If the parking lot is full at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, there is a shuttle available to take you to the trailhead, or you can park at the Bear Lake Trailhead.
- Rain Gear Recommended: On every occasion I’ve been into Glacier Gorge, it’s been gorgeous weather–and it rained. So, bring Rain gear. In the summer months, thunderstorms can form quickly in this area, especially in the afternoon.
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Conditions: Click for RMNP Trail Conditions
- Trail Map for Bear Lake Corridor: Trail Map Link
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to Steve Bratman for sharing such an amazing photograph of this hike.
- After the Hike: Inkwell Brew Coffee
Map & Driving Directions
Click for Driving Directions