Rocky Mountain National Park: Mills Lake Hike
While out in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (you can read more about Denver here), we decided to take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Heeding advice from Mike R. about the best hike, we ultimately decided on a there-and-back hike to Mills Lake.
This is a slightly uphill 5.6 mile roundtrip hike into the Glacier Gorge system within Rocky Mountain National Park.
How to Get There
After leaving Denver, you will arrive in Estes Park, CO, a really awesome small town. If we could do it all over again, I think we would have stayed in Estes Park for one night, so keep that in mind. If you need some breakfast to get yourself started on your day of hiking, do yourself a favor and stop by the Mountain View Cafe. We took a locals advice and ordered the huevos ranchero and burrito. Both were smothered in green chili sauce and exactly what we needed to be ready for our hike!
When entering Rocky Mountain National Park, you will need to pay $20/car and most likely have to park at the Park and Ride to take the shuttle to the trailhead. The stop you want for the Mills Lake hike is the Glacier Gorge trailhead.
What You Will See
Depending on the time of year, you will see wildflowers, majestic mountain ridges, rugged peaks and waterfalls. The first destination is Alberta Falls, around 0.8 miles from the trailhead. After the falls, you will continue climbing the Glacier Gorge/Loch Vail trail. After another 3 miles or so, you will see the large expanse of Mills Lake. Once there, sit down, have a snack and maybe make friends with one of the friendly chipmunks you see!
What to do Afterwards
If you have time, on the way back, take a detour to the Loch Vail trail. It's about a mile roundtrip. We were crunched for time, so we didn't make it. Also, if the road is open, take the Trail Ridge Road back to Denver. It's the road that winds through the park. Unfortunately for us, it had already snowed (in October!) so the road was closed for the season.
Have you been to Rocky Mountain National Park? What's one of your favorite hikes?
Have questions or comments about the Mills Lake Hike? Put them below!
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Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Amy K and the Hashtag 59 Team