Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Date hiked: Several
- Hiked from: Bear Lake Trailhead/Glacier Gorge Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 3.5-5.3 Miles RT
- Total elevation gain: 940 ft
- Maintained trail: Yes
- Overall Difficulty: 4/10 – Easy to follow trail. Bypass Alberta falls to shave off some distance.
- Overall Views: 7/10 – One of my favorite alpine lakes for sunrise.
Mills Lake is a photographers dream
Mills Lake is usually completely thawed by mid spring or earlier. Sitting at 9,940′ of elevation in a glacier gorge, this alpine lake has incredible views of the Spearhead, and Longs Peak, Mchenrys and Chiefs Head Peak in the distance. Thatchtop Mountain makes up the border to neighboring lakes Loch Vale and Sky Pond.
The reason that Mills Lake is one of my favorite places to take sunrise photos at is because there are so many other options after that. Continue to Jewel Lake, Ribbon Falls and Black Lake. Venture further up to Frozen, Blue, Green and Italy lakes. Shelf and Solitude Lakes, Thatchtop Mountain. There’s even a route up to Longs peak if you are a hardcore hiker. Camping is also available in the Glacier Gorge, although a permit is required and the site gets booked extremely fast.
Video Walking up on Mills Lake
Mills Lake is named after Enos Mills, a naturalist, who fought to have the land surrounded by Longs Peak federally protected in the early 1900’s. Through his diverse lectures, and consistent preaching to Congress he gained many powerful supporters to make Rocky Mountain National Park. His hard work paid off on January 26th 1915 when president Woodrow Wilson signed the federal protection of the area around Longs Peak into a national park.
I always find myself coming back to Mills Lake, or merely just passing through. Aiming to hike up to Green, Blue and Frozen lakes in the near future and I’m sure there’s going to be another sunrise photography opportunity soon. Until then…