Hiking Project Logo

Mills Lake - Black Lake Trail

 4.5 (31)

Length


3.2 Miles 5.2 Kilometers


1,405' 428 m

Ascent

-12' -4 m

Descent

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

11,204' 3,415 m

High

9,810' 2,990 m

Low

Shared By Trail Master

Conditions


Minor Issues 2 days ago
Mostly Dry, Some Mud, Fallen Trees History

Getting forecast...

This rugged trail ventures deep into a spectacular glacial gorge visiting Mills, Jewel & Black Lakes

Trail Master

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Waterfall

Snow often persists late into the summer.

Description

From the busy Glacier Junction, head south crossing Glacier Creek twice and covering sections of cairn-marked rock slabs before arriving at Mills Lake (9,955'). Here you'll marvel at the terrific views up Glacier Gorge and admire the jagged ridges and peaks that define it. Follow the rugged, undulating trail around the eastern shore of the lake over innumerable roots to where Jewel Lake starts. This marshy area continues around the lake aided by a series of skinny elevated planks. If you are searching for solitude, you're more likely to find it on Jewel Lake's western shore than at crowded but picturesque Mills Lake.

Upon leaving Jewel Lake, hike through unattractive forest with lots of blown down trees. Closely parallel Glacier Creek all the way to Black Lake, over steep ups and downs. It can be tough to find the trail here, when in doubt, follow the creek. Pass the Glacier Gorge Backcountry Campsite spur (10,068') and climb some newly built stairs. Ascend through thick forest and across another rock slab marked by rock cairns. Arrive at a mellow meadow with views of The Arrowhead (12,387'), Powell Peak (13,208) and McHenrys Peak (13,327') to the west, and Pagoda Mountain (13,497') and Keyboard of the Winds - a line of pinnacles near the summit of Longs Peak - to the east. Chiefs Head Peak (13,579') and The Spearhead (12,575') dominate the upper valley.

Many people turn around at Black Lake, as the trail gets much more difficult and barely maintained past this point.

The trail switchbacks steeply beside Ribbon Falls as they drain from the edge of Black Lake. Traverse a line of flat boulders across the end of Black Lake and climb a small ridge along the eastern shore. The trail soon becomes faint and disappears in open tundra, where unmaintained routes continue on to Blue Lake, Green Lake and Frozen Lake. Continue a short distance up the feeder creek for a unique perspective above the rocky basin.

Contacts

You & This Trail


Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Aug 19, 2018
Sierra James
Aug 17, 2018
Andy Schacht
Glacier gorge trailhead. Mills was pretty and black wasn't worth it. 10mi
Aug 16, 2018
Colin K
4.5mi — 2h 32m
Aug 2, 2018
Darlene Crandall
Jul 13, 2018
Jason Toenges
Jul 13, 2018
Lindsay Toenges
Jul 7, 2018
Mike Amolsch

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 31 votes

#1

in Bear Lake

#14

Overall
  4.5 from 31 votes
5 Star
61%
4 Star
32%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#1

in Bear Lake

#3

in Colorado

#14

Overall
499 Views Last Month
3,400 Since Jul 13, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

0%
10%
65%
23%
0%
3%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking