D/R/E: 5 miles - 700' elevation gain
Hiking Distance Is The Total Length Of The Hike
Many hikers consider Mills Lake the prettiest lake in the park, a bold claim where there are so many outstanding contenders for this praise. Without doubt, this popular destination is extremely lovely in its dramatic setting below Longs Peak. Along the first mile of the trail, Glacier Creek is exciting, especially where it shoots over Alberta Falls. Also along the first part of the trail, notice the weather-etched patterns in the grain of red, gray, and black wood killed in a 1900 forest fire. Scrambling over glacier-scoured bedrock in Glacier Gorge, you will see several spectacular views of Longs Peak, tallest in the park, and the jagged Keyboard of the Winds. The round boulders left isolated on the bedrock by melting glaciers and the twisted shapes of limber pines increase the interest of this scene. Unlike most lakes on the east side of the national park, Mills Lake is prettiest in the late afternoon. This fact alone is enough to merit praise from hikers who are tired of rising before dawn to see the best light on the peaks. Afternoon skies frequently contain clouds, which can either add interesting shapes to an empty sky or throw the entire landscape into shadow, making it all dull.