Mills Lake - Black Lake Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,405' 428 m
Descent: -12' -4 m
High: 11,204' 3,415 m
Low: 9,810' 2,990 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)
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“This rugged trail ventures deep into a spectacular glacial gorge visiting Mills, Jewel & Black Lakes”— Trail Master
Upon leaving Jewel Lake, run 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.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Rocky Mountain National Park