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Trip Details

Date Sunday  3/10/2019
End Date
Group Denver
Event Title Mills, Jewel and Black Lakes (RMNP)
Start Time 7:45 AM
Status Complete
Leader David Brush
Member Price Free
Non-member Price Free
Available Participants 4
Type Trip
Trip Type Snowshoe
Classification Moderate 
Trail Mileage 7.8
Elevation Gain 1200
Driving Distance


We will meet at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (BMVC) at the Estes Park entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park at 7:45 am to use the restrooms, form car pools, and pack the cars.  When you arrive at the BMVC, please park your vehicle in one of the parking spots furthest from the Visitor Center building (and closest to the lot exit) in the outbound lane.

We will depart the BMVC for the Glacier Gorge Trailhead at 8:00 am.  We should arrive there at approximately 8:30 am.  The Glacier Gorge Parking Lot is relatively small and fills up fast on weekends, hence the early start.  If we cannot find enough parking spaces for our vehicles there, we will proceed several minutes further up the road to the larger parking lot at the Bear Lake Trailhead.  This would add approximately 0.4 miles to our hike and a short climb back to the parking lot at the end of our hike.  Public restrooms are available at both trailheads.

Please let me know if you have an active national parks pass, and remember to bring it with you to the hike.  We'll try to have an individual with a pass in each vehicle we take into the park.  If we can't do that, the entrance fee for each vehicle without a pass will be $20, and the aggregate cost for all entrance fees paid by our group will be equitably split amongst members of the group who do not bring a pass and are not covered by another member's pass (not just those in vehicles without a pass).

If you would like to carpool to RMNP, please let me know the following ASAP:

  • First and last name
  • Mobile phone number
  • Email address
  • Are you (1) able and willing to drive others to the BMVC and the trailhead, (2) able to drive others if needed but prefer to ride with someone else, or (3) only looking for a ride?
  • Where will you be coming from (city and zip code)?

I'll share the above information with everyone in the group who wishes to carpool.

Please keep in mind that it is customary for the driver and passengers in a vehicle driven to a CMC event to share the mileage cost for the trip at a rate of $0.30 per mile.  For example, if there are three passengers in a car driven 120 miles round-trip to a CMC hike, each passenger would pay the driver 1/4 of ($0.30 x 120), or $9.00.  Drivers should keep track of their mileage for the trip, and passengers should bring cash in various denominations to pay their share of the mileage cost.

For more info Contact

Trip Leader contact information:

  • Name:  David Brush
  • Mobile:  847-204-7246
  • Email:

If you need to cancel your reservation for this trip, it is your responsibility to do that online.  Here's how:  Log in to > Members > My Membership > My Trips > find this trip (your upcoming trips will be listed in date order) > click "Cancel Reservation."  If you need to cancel within 24 hours of the scheduled meeting time, please do so online and call or text me at 847-204-7246 (no emails, please).  Remember to include your first and last name in any text messages you send.


In his outstanding book Ski & Snowshoe Routes: Colorado's Front Range (published in 2017 by the Colorado Mountain Club), author Alan Apt wrote, "If you want a superb winter adventure, Black Lake Trail is one of the park's better offerings short of climbing a peak.  As with many of these destinations, it takes on an almost mystical quality in the winter that is not quite as profound on a nice summer's day.  The trail visits three spectacular frozen lakes.  The journey to the first two can be nice day trips in themselves.  Venturing all the way to Black Lake in the winter can make for a very satisfying day for the experienced and very fit."  Our goal for this hike is to reach Black Lake before returning to the trailhead, or to get as close to it as time, conditions and our abilities allow.

Our hike will begin (probably on micro-spikes) at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead (or the nearby Bear Lake Trailhead if we are unable to park at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead) and proceed approximately 1.9 miles via the Winter Route to the north shore of Mills Lake, "a beautiful subalpine lake nestled below Half Mountain. From its eastern shore, looking from left to right, you'll have outstanding views of the Keyboard of the Winds [on Longs Peak], 13,497-foot Pagoda Mountain, 13,579-foot Chiefs Head Peak and 12,668-foot Thatchtop Mountain." [1] At this point we will be approximately 2.05 miles from Black Lake.  We'll stop here briefly for photos and snacks before hiking across or around Mills Lake and Jewel Lake, which offers additional photo opportunities.

By the time we reach the south end of Jewel Lake we will have hiked approximately 2.4 miles from the trailhead.  At or shortly after reaching this point we will likely need to switch from microspikes to snowshoes for the final 1.5 mile push to Black Lake.  "This spectacular alpine lake fills a deep cirque basin carved out of the base of McHenrys Peak and Chiefs Head Peak. From the north shore The Arrowhead will be the dominating feature off to your right. Almost directly in front of you will be 13,327-foot McHenrys Peak, and above the headwall, looking due south, is The Spearhead and 13,579-foot Chiefs Head Peak." [1]  We'll spend some time here taking photos and refueling before reversing our route back to the trailhead.

Our pace will be comfortable for everyone in the group and should allow us to reach Black Lake and return to the trailhead by no later than 5:00 pm.  Therefore, you should be prepared to spend up to eight hours on the trail, hiking up to 7.8 miles (including up to 3.0 miles wearing snowshoes), and climbing up to 1,200 feet.

[1] Source:


GEAR - All participants should come prepared with their Ten Essentials, adequate amounts of water and snacks, and appropriate outerwear to protect themselves from the possible effects of cold, wind and precipitation. In addition, you must bring microspikes and snowshoes and know how to fasten them to your feet and your backpack (we will likely begin the hike wearing our microspikes with our snowshoes attached to our backpacks).  I am also bringing the following items and highly recommend that you do as well:

  • Gaiters
  • Trekking poles with snow baskets
  • A balaclava or buff to protect your face from strong winds
  • Goggles

WEATHER - Do not assume that bad weather means the trip will be canceled.  I will generally only cancel a trip if the roads will be unsafe for us to travel on to and from the trailhead.  Otherwise, we will wear and carry the appropriate gear for the anticipated and potential weather conditions.

UPDATES - Please check your email the day before the hike for a current weather forecast from me with suggestions for additional equipment you may need or want to bring.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS - Please let me know before the day of the hike if you have a medical condition that might impact you on the trip (e.g., allergies, asthma, cardiac or respiratory issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.).  If you have such a condition, remember to bring the necessary medication and medical equipment (e.g., EpiPen, asthma inhaler, heart medications, blood glucose meter, etc.) and inform me of its location in your pack.  Also, if you are taking a prescription blood thinner, bring ClotStop or a similar product and notify me of its location in your pack.

GUESTS - Non-CMC members are welcome to register for this hike if accompanied by a CMC member and the guest signs a Guest Liability Waiver form.  Please contact me if you wish to bring a guest or if you would like to join the hike as my guest.


Sorry it is past the registration deadline for this event.