Don’t you love a great backup plan? Our original plan for the day was to hike to Dream Lake, but when we arrived at the Bear Lake parking lot at 7:45 am it was already full. We started driving back down the mountain and found that Glacier Gorge parking was also full and so was Bierdstand Lake. We pulled into the Hollowell Park area hoping we could find a spot. We were relieved to find several parking spaces available.
On a previous trip, we hiked to the Mill Creek Basin and turned around to return the way we came. On this occation, we hiked a loop around Mill Creek Basin and then connected back up with the trail to return to the Hollowell Park trailhead.
Hike to Mill Creek Basin
The first section of the trail takes you through an open valley with views of Longs Peak. This could be a hot section of the trail during summer afternoons, but soon the path wraps around into a wooded area and follows along side Mill Creek.
We enjoyed the solitude this hike offered. Over the course of four miles, we passed less than a dozen fellow hikers.
Besides some minor complaints during a couple of the uphill sections on the trail, our 5-year-old walked the trail on her own with a great attitude. Our 3-year-old rode in her kid carrier.
A variety of wildflowers bloomed near Mill Creek and in the open fields.
Wilderness Camping at Mill Creek Basin
Half way through the hike (or 2 miles from the trailhead) we crossed into the Mill Creek Basin. There are two wilderness camping spots available in the Mill Creek Basin. The National Park Service offers a map of all the wilderness campsites in the Bear Lake area including Mill Creek Basin. Additional information about permits and regulations can be found on the national park service’s website.
If you are looking for a backup plan hike, a hike that’s less crowded, or a hike with gorgeous wildflowers, I highly recommend giving this loop around Mill Creek Basin a shot. Let me know if you do and what you think!
Want a bigger challenge? This trail connects to several popular destinations in the park including Cub Lake, Bear Lake, and Bierstadt Lake.
Our original post about Hollowell Park is called A Trail Less Traveled: Hollowell Park to Mill Creek Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Featured Hiking gear – Trekking poles
Trekking poles – I wish we would have brought trekking poles for the steep downhill section of this trail through the elm trees. I typically don’t have knee issues, but sometimes hiking downhill is hard on my joints and I think the poles help absorb the extra pressure. Trekking poles also come in handy if there are any snowy patches along the trail.
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