• Activities:

    Fishing, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    10 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1400 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Black Lake is a beautiful alpine lake located deep in Rocky Mountain national Park. You get to pass two other beautiful lakes (Mills and Jewel) on your way to Black lake. At Black lake, there are many options for additional adventures both at lakes and summits above in the upper glacier gorge cirque.

The Black lake hike begins at the very popular Glacier Gorge trailhead along Bear Lake road in Rocky Mountain National Park. During the summer and weekends, the park shuttle may be the best parking option as the lot is often full by 7am and can be difficult to find a spot throughout the day.

From the Glacier Gorge lot head down the trail and follow signs to Mills Lake. There are several junctions early but they are well signed. After a little over .8 miles you will come to Alberta Falls, which is a very popular spot/destination. The next several miles of trail have moderate grades and generally stay in the forest with several nice views along the way.

At 2.6 miles form the trailhead you will reach Mills Lake. Mills is a beautiful and popular lake that is often used as a final destination. After taking in the views of glacier gorge and Longs Peak, continue on the same trail as it hugs the shoreline of Mills. After Mills you will see Jewel Lake through the trees on the right side of the trail. Jewel is marshier, less impressive lake but still a worthwhile side trip.

After Jewel Lake you have several miles of moderate grades before reaching Black Lake. Just before the final approach the trail opens up as you pass by Ribbon Falls, which is from the outlet of Black Lake. The trail between Mills and Black can be a bit hard to follow, especially with snow on the ground. There are no other maintained trails in this area so with some concentration you should be able to stick to the trail.

At Black Lake there are number of nice places to relax and take in the amazing views of McHenry's Peak and Arrowhead, both very intense but rewarding summits. When you are ready to return follow the same trail back to the trailhead.

Pack List

  • Map
  • Water 
  • Snacks 
  • Appropriate clothing for the conditions  
  • Camera
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

Always a fun hike. Keep following the trail up past Black Lake and above treeline for some great views.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Eric Schuette Explorer

I love adventure and exploring. Currently a school psychologist who tries to spend my free-time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

8 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves