Mills Lake

Estes Park, Colorado

Mills Lake

Mills Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This very popular hike leads to a rock-rimmed lake situated dramatically below Longs Peak and the extremely jagged Keyboard of the Winds.

Mills Lake is named for Enos Mills, the father of Rocky Mountain National Park. Mills wrote many articles and books (some still in print) and gave many lectures urging the establishment of a national park around Longs Peak."

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Mills Lake Trail Trip Reports

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Arvada, CO
Trailblazer | 1381 pts
3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars
I did this trail on 11/9/2018. It was pretty easy walking but the trail was snow-packed and so it was nice that I had my spikes. Saw a couple of people with snowshoes and Nordic skis as well as several people who seemed to be totally unprepared for the snowy trail. It was cold (high 20s), sunny and windy but the trail was still pretty crowded. The lake was almost completely frozen and the falls on the way to the lake were basically non-existent because they were frozen and/or covered with snow. There are also a couple of log bridges that are not so easy to cross when they are snow-covered. Total time ~ 3h including a very short lunch break at the lake (it was cold).
Bannockburn, IL
Pathfinder | 100 pts
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
Beautiful hike. Very well marked and well traveled in the summer. Best to go in the early morning to avoid the crowds. Stunning views. Take a camera.
Fry, AZ
Pathfinder | 170 pts
2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars2 out of 5 stars
An easy hike but very crowded. The trails are well marked and maintained. The views are wonderful and the falls are nice. Its not a hikers trail, more like a lets get out of the car and stretch our legs hike.
Shawnee, KS
Pathfinder | 110 pts
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
This is a great hike to a beautiful lake with excellent peaks in the background. On this day, the trail was clear to Mills and it was not overly crowded, however, later in the summer it will become very crowded, especially late in the day.

We chose to continue the trail to Black Lake. This was a mistake, too early and still a lot of snow. Should have checked with the rangers for a report. The snow makes it more difficult to hike, but the scenery is stupendous !!!

If you are up to an additional 5 miles or so after you get to Mills, and there is little or no remaining snow....go on to Black Lake... Mills in and of itself is worthy of the hike!!!

More Mills Lake Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Kent Dannen
"Likely the second-most popular hiking trail in Rocky Mountain National Park leads to a rock-rimmed tarn spreading picturesquely below Longs Peak, the ragged Keyboard of the Winds, and Pagoda Mountain. Because beauty is more than a joining of visually appealing elements, the many hikers who praise Mills Lake as the most beautiful in the national park likely are correct. This is an extreme claim, considering Dream, Chasm, Nanita, and many other extraordinary lakes within the park. But when pioneer innkeeper Abner Sprague named Mills Lake for Enos Mills, known since 1915 as the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park,” the lake gained an aura of high regard boosting its beauty to the top spot."

Trail Information

Estes Park
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
4 hours
Horseback Riding
Additional Use
Rocky Mountain National Park (970) 586-1242; www.nps.gov/romo
Local Contacts
USGS McHenrys Peak
Local Maps