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Freezing Hike to Mills Lake

We wanted to get out this weekend and up into the mountains so we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park. We were really hoping to go snowshoeing, but nowhere in the mountains in Northern Colorado got any snow over the past week so we figured we'd bring our snowshoes but probably wouldn't use them.

We got to the trailhead around 1PM, and the Glacier Gorge parking lot was completely full. So we headed up to Bear Lake knowing that it probably wouldn't be a much better parking situation there, and it wasn't. However, since the Bear Lake parking lot is so big and since we got there in the early afternoon, there was a stream of people leaving and we were able to get a parking spot with little trouble.

Even though we couldn't park at the parking lot we wanted to, Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge are connected by a small 0.4 mile trail. The thing that sucked the most was that Bear Lake was higher than Glacier Gorge, so we hiked down 250 feet in elevation immediately which meant that the last half-mile was straight up and torturous. The whole hike ended up being pretty difficult for where we're at with our hiking this early in the season. It was a modest 5.5 mile hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain that took us two and a half hours. We started the hike with the weather in the lower 20's and there were supposed to be little (5mph) winds, but there were a few unexpected windy spots on the trail, including at the lake, which is always expected at an alpine lake. The temperature dropped considerably on the hike and definitely got into single digits if not below, plus the 30mph wind chill made for the summit to be pretty miserable. However, because of the wind, there was a lot of snow drifting off the nearby mountains that made for some pretty great views.

Trailhead Location
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5.49 mi 2.6 hrs 9,942 ft 1,319 ft
View Graph
Early in the Hike
Angry Steller
East Glacier Knobs
Blowing Snow
Cracks in the Ice
Trail of Trees
Mills Lake Panorama
Frozen Selfie
Mummy Range