Mill Lake Hike

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
7.1 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
349 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The Mill Lake Hike is an ideal adventure for the intrepid explorers of the world. This scenic adventure demands several creek crossings and some scrambling up to the idyllic alpine lake hidden amongst the Smoky Mountains.

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Route Description for Mill Lake Hike

The Mill Lake Trail is an exciting adventure that we highly recommend adding to your Sawtooth National Forest to-do list. This pleasant trail explores mixed woodlands and meadows bisected by the lake’s outflow and boasts wonderful views of the mountain-bound pool. Compared to most lakes in the area, Mill Lake and Mill Creek have a tendency to dry up after a hot, dry summer, so spring exploration is highly encouraged. Note that there are a few creek crossings that are usually easily hop-able, but sometimes hikers will need to get wade through the water. Additionally, much of the route is exposed, so it is wise to wear SPF and sun protection.

Your journey to Mill Lake begins from the trailhead off the National Forest Development Road 179. Setting out from here, the Mill Creek Trail travels southwardly, gradually climbing into the wilderness. Soon after your departure will need to navigate your first crossing. Minding your footing on the rocks and roots that obstruct the path, the initial stage of the trail will guide you through the mixed pine forestlands, offering some shelter from the elements. After successfully maneuvering the second and third creek crossing, the tree canopy will open, revealing the basin adorned with Mill Lake.

Admire the beauty of the turquoise-hued lake bound by the towering bluffs of the Smoky Mountains and snap a few photos. Dip your feet into the chilly water, then when you are ready, retrace your footing down the path back to the trailhead.

Getting to the Mill Lake Hike Trailhead

The Mill Lake Hike departs from the trailhead off the National Forest Development Road 179.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed Camping

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Mill Lake Hike Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Mill Lake Hike Reviews

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