Isabelle Glacier Trail is a 10.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September.
Directions from Ward: Take Brainard Lake Road (CR #102) to the Long Lake Trailhead.
Wonderful hike with great views. We got there at 8:30 and Long Lake parking lot was full, so we went down and parked in the small Niwot lot on the SW side of Branaird lake. It adds probably 1 mile on to the hike from Long Lake parking lot, but still probably knocks 3/4 mile off of the day-use lot.
If you understandably thought it couldn't get more beautiful than what you were looking at at the bottom in front of Branaird Lake, then enjoy knowing that it does. The hike to Lake Isabelle is about 3.5 miles, but pretty easy. That would be a great hike in itself and Lake Isabelle is gorgeous.
From there you can make a decision because the last 1.5 miles up to the glacier is by far the hardest part of the hike. It has just as much elevation gain as the first 3.5 miles, and it gets rocky. It can be hard to follow the trail, especially with the snow in October. It essentially doubled the time of our hike. The views are great though, so if you have the time and the energy, definitely continue.
Hands down my favorite hike to date, the views were breathtaking, the lakes were gorgeous and the last bit was quite fun , the trail disappeared over a few boulder fileds but was never hard to find again. The glacier was very referring to reach. I would suggest getting there early to get decent parking and to beat any afternoon storms.
This trail begins off of the Pawnee Pass Trail at Lake Isabelle. It marks the start of a series of steep switchbacks that bring you up to Isabelle glacier within a steep walled basin which holds frozen glacial runoff. I was here in September and much of the frozen runoff was only a thin layer of ice. The glacier itself was sliding into the basin and still had very white snow. It made for a beautiful hike and perfect place to relax and take pictures. This trail is steep (1500 feet in 2 miles) and completely exposed as its above tree line. However the reward at the end is well worth the effort and the stunning scenery along the way is enjoyable with each step. I highly recommend this trail. You might even see a marmot or two :)
We were very happy with this trail! We had no problem parking at 1pm on a Thursday, and brought a big group. Easy hike with a bit of a more moderate incline over rocks in the last quarter mile. The views get better and better the farther in you are. Breathtaking and euphoric. Little downward stream midway through the hike that's gorgeous to take photos near. Lake was mostly drained because it's September (I believe they drain it at the end of august every year to provide water to the nearby towns), and it was still incredibly beautiful. Gorgeous time of year to come (Sept 22- first day of fall!)
To get to the Glacier you first have to hike to the lake so about 9 miles round trip unless you have to park down at lake Brainard then it is 11 miles.
Not hikable in late May early June, but the lake is beautiful!
We hiked in yesterday to the ridge right before the glacier but an older dog was thinking that was far enough! Cold, brisk wind on the morning but it turned into a beautiful 70 degree day. Great hike and one of my favorites.
The length of the hike is incorrect if you want to reach the glacier; that is another couple of miles. Totally worth the effort and a trail that has nearly everything for the hiker - scenery, water features, wildlife, etc.
Great hike, but a very long hike to the glacier. This hike had the best views I've seen hiking this summer.
The overview is incorrect. It's 2 miles to Isabelle Lake. The glacier is about an additional 2.5 miles. I did this hike yesterday and the lake is now drained. If you're going on to the glacier this shouldn't deter you as there is another lake further up. Also, the wildflowers are insane this year, thick all along the trail.
Passing waterfalls, a moose, several marmot, this is a photographer's dream trail. The push up to the glacier is fairly strenuous but well worth it. The closest and biggest glacier view I've seen in this state. Just watch for the cairns as the trek through the boulder fields can be a bit tricky. There was only one other person on the trek up to the glacier and if you know Brainard you'll know this was a treat.