Mills, Jewel, & Black Lake


Trail Stats & Info

RT length 11.3 miles (starting
at Bear Lake; turn
around at above
Black Lake
Elevation gain 2,710 feet
Difficulty moderate-strenuous
(due to length)
Lowest elevation 9,323 feet
Highest elevation 11,199 feet
Trail type out & back
(unless backpacking)
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 200
Restrooms @ TH? yes


From Estes Park, take Highway 36 to Rocky Mountain National Park Beaver Meadows entrance. Turn left at Bear Lake Rd. Follow Bear Lake Rd. all the way to Bear Lake. Trailhead signs are near Bear Lake. Take the trail that says “Alberta Falls”. Shuttles available to Bear Lake if parking lot is full.



This was an absolutely beautiful hike!!! One of the best hikes I’ve done in my life! The entire trail has amazing views! Plus, it has a very diverse scenery. From mountain views, lake views, dense forests, and alpine/tundra landscapes, you’ll never get bored. It is a bit of a long hike, but well worth it. The beginning of the trail to Mills Lake has a lot of traffic. If you want to avoid the crowds, I suggest starting early. From Bear Lake, the trail descends quite a bit, then gradually climbs to Alberta Falls. Right before and after Mills Lake, you’ll hike over several broad rock slabs. Keep you eye out for the trail, as there are not any cairns on the rocks. Once you hit Mills Lake, the view opens up and you can see soaring peaks in the distance. Following Mills lake is Jewel Lake, which is much smaller. The trail continues through a few meadows, as long boards of wood and here the traffic is a lot less. Near reaching Black Lake is Ribbon Falls which is water flowing from Black Lake. As you hike up to the top of Ribbon Falls, you reach you destination, Black Lake. You can stop here and turn around, but I highly recommend following the trail to the left of Black Lake. The trail continues on and leads you to above Black Lake and above treeline. Here the view opens up again and you’re right at the base of Longs Peak, Keyboard of the Winds, and the Spearhead. From here you also have great views of McHenry Peak and Powell Peak. Up there, you might need to do some scrambling and make you way around a stream. This is one of my all-time favorite hikes. It took me about 5.5 hrs to complete the hike, which included eating a snack above Black Lake and some speed hiking on the way back.

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About Mar

My name is Mar (short for Maria), and I'm an avid hiker, backpacker, snowshoer, and snowboarder. There's no place I'd rather be than on a mountain! Originally from San Diego, I packed up my few belongings, and moved out to colorful Colorado so I could be immersed in the awesome Rocky Mountains! And I haven't looked back since! Any free time I have, you can find me hiking up a 14er or snowboarding in fresh powder.