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442 Mill Creek Trail 2011-07-18

Mill Creek Trail Over look

As my wife, Amy and I searched for more difficult, snow-free trails we opted to try the Mill Creek Trail from Cub Lake. Years ago I hiked/ran the trail solo and remembered how difficult it was. It did not take much convincing for her to say, 'let's try it.'

We parked our vehicle at Hollowell Park and rode the shuttle bus to the Fern Lake shuttle stop. After leaving the bus we walked along the flat, dry, dusty road to the Fern Lake Trailhead. Every SUV that passed, left us gagging for fresh air.


the Pool


On the trail the walking was much more pleasant. The trail to the Pool is an easy, enjoyable hike. The trail follows along the Big Thompson River for 1.7 miles to a bridge that crosses the river. After crossing the river, continue straight toward Cub Lake. (The trail to Fern Lake goes to the right.) The path begins to climb almost immediately. It is not just a slog, the path is interesting with creek crossings, small waterfalls, overlooks, and one huge bridge.

Near Cub Lake's west shore the trail crests a ridge and comes to a trail junction. The Mill Creek Trail goes right, up the hill.

The hike to the saddle of Steep Mountain was enjoyable. The trail did climb steeply, but it was not that difficult. We thought that the Park and Ride to Bierstadt Lake section of the Bierstadt Trail was steeper and had worse tread. The Mill Creek Trail offered us good views of Cub Lake and a more trail-like path as it twisted, turned, and climbed to the saddle.

From the Steep Mountain saddle we descended sharply to an open high meadow. This was the same trail I had walked for the first time when I hiked the Hollowell Park trails. I was anxious to show Amy this lush park.


Mill Creek Basin


The Mill Creek Basin was filled with flowers and aspen. Birds flitted and chipmunks played among the rocks.

We met several hikers as we were headed down the trail to Hollowell Park. Some had planned a hike from Bear Lake to the Fern Lake Trailhead. The snow was still very deep in the Odessa Lake and Helene Lake areas making that popular trail unusable for most hikers. The Bierstadt Lake Trail to Mill Creek Basin Trail and on to Mill Creek Trail is a good substitue for the snow filled trails.

The Mill Creek Trail is a good, less traveled route. Be sure and bring a camera.

A few Mill Creek Trail notes ...

There are privies at the Fern Lake Shuttle Bus Trailhead. There is only a kiosk at the real Fern Lake Trailhead.

Walking along the road is not much fun.

Bring your own water or filter (or treat) water from the creeks or river.

The trails were easy to follow. Mileages differed from map to map and from the directional signs.

The multi-use trail is deeply rutted by horse travel in the Mill Creek Basin.

Happy Mill Creek trails


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