The other day we at The Trail Insider made a quick hike up to Mills Lake over the snowpacked trail from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. We arrived at the lake in just about 45 minutes after taking the winter fire-trail shortcut. This typical winter shortcut trail was pretty well set into place, although there are a few places to take care to not post-hole into the creek.
Mills Lake itself was frozen over and the snow was blown off it for the most part. With the relatively warm temperatures lately and the ice not looking extremely thick, we decided to stay on the sides. After encountering a few friendly trail runners, we decided to tack on The Loch to extend our hike.
The winter trail to the Loch – heading up along the creek that passes under the first small footbridge to Mills Lake – was mostly “in” although there were a half dozen places to be careful from post-holing into the creek. The Loch itself was also wind-swept and frozen completely. Sitting at a higher elevation, it looked more solidly frozen than Mills and we saw several people walking across the lake.
All in all, it was a great hike with microspikes that ended up being just under 5 miles with the winter shortcuts. Snowshoes would have been completely unnecessary. The summer trails would’ve made this same hike about 6.8 miles, so enjoy the snowy shortcuts!