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Hiked on 10/26. I had been there almost 20 years ago with my kids aged 1, 3, and 4 (a good fraction on my back as you can imagine). This was during the summer and we had a great time. This is why I wanted to take the opportunity of my visit in Boulder to return.
Some snow on the path, but not too much. The lowest part of the trail is somewhat icy, and some may want to use spikes (I did not). After the tree line, the snow is soft, so that the spikes are not useful. Today was very windy but clear. I left the winter parking lot at 7AM and was back at 1PM. There is no need for snow shoes, but good hiking shoes and protection (to avoid the snow to get in) are needed

hiking
22 days ago

Hiked on 10/20. As others have said, the road into Brainard Lake is closed for the season, so you park in the lot before the fee station. I tracked the whole hike on my fitbit, and it's 2 miles to Brainard Lake, and another mile to the trailhead. All we wore were Yaktraks over our hiking shoes. It would have been nice to have snow boots or gaiters on, as you fall through the snow a LOT. Our feet were soaked for most of the hike.

Took us 7 hours, and we took a wrong turn on the way to the trailhead that added a mile. 14 miles round trip. There was no wind at all until the top, and even then it wasn't too bad. The snow made this hike TOUGH and made it take a lot longer than it should have for us, but the views are some of the most incredible I've seen. We only saw a few other people all day. Highly recommend if you love a challenging hike--though I wouldn't do it again in the snow.

Loved it! Got to parking lot at Gateway at 6 am and biked the 2 plus miles to trailhead. The trail starts in trees and snow was packed on the trail with scattered ice. I wore micro spikes and knee gaiters—both were needed. Parts of the trail were nearly dry on a ridge about 3/4 of a mile up and before tree line. After tree line it’s consistently snowy. The trail above tree line is marked by rock piles and was easy to follow until a quarter mile from the summit. Lots of packed snow and many post holes from recent hikers breaking through the crust. The wind above tree line today was fierce. Three other hikers and I were all amazed at the wind speed, likely a constant 25 mph + with stronger gust? ( I had no gauge so let’s just say it was plenty strong and slowed my forward progress to a crawl at times.) But glorious views at the top! Well worth the effort. I hike about ten miles a week at elevation but I’m a slow hiker and took my time, stopped often and ate lunch near the summit. Got back to the Gateway parking lot at 4:45 even using a mountain bike. Highly recommend this trail, but with more snow I will pass on going again till summer. Snow shoes would have done no good today, if you’re going soon use knee gaiters and spikes.

Did this on 10/20/18. THE GATES ARE CLOSED FOR THE SEASON. You must park at Gateway Trailhead and walk the 2-2.5ish miles to the Beaver Creek Trailhead- or anywhere else you want to go around Brainard. If you are at all worried about time or icy trails, just walk the road. Yak traks are necessary if you do not take the road but everything else is doable without them. Highly recommend tall snow boots and gaiters as you will spend a lot of time stepping in the snow to your knees... which I'm sure will only get more significant very soon. You should also allow more time than you think with the snow... it took me 6.5 hours having to walk from Gateway and I am an experienced hiker. BUT the hike is amazing, the snow capped mountains are gorgeous and you should do this hike!!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike that really lives up to rating. Awesome views. The wind was a bit challenging near the top.

off road driving
1 month ago

Great views from the top ran it at night not too long ago and didn't find it particularly challenging. Lots of camping spots and offshoots to explore. Wish needle's eye was open though. Kinda sucks to get up there and not crossover.

I did this 13er with my wife when we were visiting from KY. It is very manageable, and has some great views.

This trail was incredibly beautiful and had awesome views. The wind was our antagonist for sure; very windy it blows against you going uphill which is quite the challenge. We did everything but the last scramble and it took about six hours with small breaks.

hiking
1 month ago

Really gorgeous hike. The last mile up there is already a decent amount of snow and at the top, close to 6 inches. Definitely wear waterproof hiking boots.

This was our first every high altitude hike and we loved it. We started around 9ish and took 3 hours to get all the way up. Weather was pretty crazy today with winds at 20 mph but the gusts felt to be even higher once we hit the plateau before the finial ascent to the summit. Once you make it to the finial bolder field to the summit the trail was hard to find and we ended up scrambling to find our way. All in all great hike and we are so glad we did it. Total time was 5.5 hours.

Amazing trail with spectacular views. There is a spectacular glacial lake not on the map, but you have to climb to above 12,000 feet before you get a look at it. It was frozen when we got there. This trail is extremely difficult and mostly over large boulders. You must have excellent footwear, excellent balance, and ample cold weather clothing. If you're unsure if you can tackle this trail, take the easy hike to Lake Isabelle and make your decision once you're there. It took us 8 hours round trip from the long lake parking lot. Don't let the reasonable distance fool you! Watch for cairns, as most of this trail is across boulder fields.

Also be very careful about altitude sickness and understand the signs. I live at 1000 ft and was able to climb to the end of the trail, but had symptoms of altitude sickness into the next day.

There is a bull moose, cow, and a calf living just above the lake. We had the good fortune to see all three from a safe distance. Watch out, as both the bull and cow are known to chase and attack!

There are also ample Pika (endangered) and marmots living in the boulder fields. Keep your eyes open!

Beautiful hike!! It was long and got rough near the end, but the lake and cirque views are worth it!

on King Lake Trail

hiking
1 month ago

This was my favorite hike ALL summer. Not heavily trafficed, closer to Denver, and stunning views the whole way up! I highly recommend. Make sure you arrive early so that you don't have to hike up to the trailhead. I believe there is public transportation that brings you directly there as well - maybe look into that.

Up to Cirque Meadows is very easy. The aspens are changed, making much of the path very colourful.
We were confused at first about the marked campsites which are farther up the trail past the meadow-the sites were nice, site 3 has a good view.
The rest of the way was tougher, and some places we lost the trail as it wound up the boulders.
The end views are breathtaking, and great photo opportunities. I plan on going again in June when the wildflowers are bloomed.

Amazing trail with fantastic view at the end! Not a full 8 miles around the lake, we did the full thing and it came out to under 7 with a lot of exploring. Absolutely breathtaking views at the end. The trail is pretty flat, with maybe max of 0.5 miles uphill. Great for out of towners. Parking fills up early, be prepared to walk extra mileage if you’re after 9 even on a weekday.
Lots of moose in the area, spotted two at the lake on the way in.

off road driving
2 months ago

Pretty mellow trail. Good for people just starting to wheel. Jenny creek, although now rerouted, is a little more techy if your wanting a bit more of challenge. Took a bit for the snow to fully melt though.

Even cloudy, great views!

Manageable 13er with motivating views as early as a mile in. Flowing switchbacks keep this hike in the moderate/moderate+ category until around mile 3, the only truly difficult section is the last half mile push to the summit. A “good to know” is, you are VERY exposed for slightly more than half of the trek up to the summit, so that’s when/if the wind will pick up (or sun on a mild/hot day). I did not have any wind at the summit but be aware temps can drop on you. The whole Brainard Lake Rec Area is amazing, this 13er certainly fits the mold!

hiking
2 months ago

I did this trail yesterday and it was absolutely stunning. The hike up to the Cirque is relatively flat and I think would be doable by most people. It is lined with aspens so would be really pretty if you catch them in turning season. The trail is very diverse-aspens, then pines, some meadows, lots of small lakes, streams, and some waterfalls, wildflowers, berries, mushrooms...it was nice and cool as well. Not crowded. The lakes surrounded by peaks and snow were beautiful blue. I think it was more like 11.4 miles, and I was shocked that it went by so easily, mostly cause a lot of it is mostly flat.

hiking
2 months ago

I consider this a get right hike. This hike has everything without being too physically demanding. It has good flat parts, good inclines, a beautiful halfway turnaround spot at the Cirque Meadows, a high alpine lake, aspens, rivers, wild flowers.

If you have been on some rough hikes this will be perfect difficulty to get you right. We started at 8:00, reached Emmaline by 10:10, and were done by 12:45. A dip in the lake was cold but surprisingly refreshing.

hiking
2 months ago

Hit the Trailhead by 6:30 AM, parking had just begun to overflow. Beautiful day, heavier foot traffic as the afternoon stretched on. I’d recommend this hike during the week when crowds would be thinner. A great way to enjoy Colorado. Saw several moose, a couple deer, and a handful of marmots.

hiking
2 months ago

I bet there aren’t a half dozen hikes this visually
stunning in all of Colorado.

For a Saturday in the summer, the trail didn’t feel crowded at all above Lake Isabel. We arrived at 630 am and Long Lake TH had one final parking spot.

Gaining 2100 or so over 4.5 miles sounds more like a moderate hike, rather than hard. But then you do it. Because so much of the vertical is in that last 1.5 miles to the pass, it’s a lung buster to the finish. The terrain is rocky but completely non-technical or more complicated than a few talus crossings. That being said, I was glad to have trekking poles for the descent.

Don't really know about the trail as we followed the getting there link. They say go to lost lake trail head. This does not exist in the area. I am told this trail head is far away. Find beaver creek trail head.

2 months ago

8/26/18 - Incredible trek. Trail is pretty well marked for about 3 miles. Last mile is rock scramble up. I don’t no where to begin, or how to described this amazing hike. Words cannot describe it. My fav trek to date. Wind is strong and chilly be prepared.

hiking
2 months ago

More like 12 miles including (pleasant) hike from day use area. You should just plan on that and count yourself lucky if you get a spot at Long Lake trailhead. We arrived 830 on Saturday, but suspect a lot are gone to overnighters.

Busy trail but we'll worth it. Please think about taking leash reactive dogs to other trails! This one is popular and narrow in places. It must be exhausting to have to so actively manage their behavior every few minutes.

Never seen Lake Isabelle so dry! First pond was empty in late August. Main part still had water and was as beautiful as always. Trail past the lake gets significantly tougher both up and down, so allow time.

Start early. Very windy st the top

off road driving
2 months ago

This trail isn’t open for off road driving all the way to the top. If you want to get to the pass lookout you have to get out and walk the last 1.5miles. The tunnel near the top of the pass is permanently closed. If you head back down the trail once you get to Yankee Doodle lake turn left on to boulder wagon road and then stay right which will take you on Jenny Creek Trail. Once on Jenny Creek keep your eyes on the left side of the trail in about 2000ft there will be a trail up to the left that is gated as a service road. This gate is easy to traverse around on the high side of the mountain. Once on the service road follow along and it will connect you with the pre existing boulder wagon road. This road will reconnect you with Rollins Pass Rd on the opposite side of the tunnel. HOWEVER THE LAST 1000ft OF BOULDER WAGON RD IS EXTREMELY STEEP AND ROCKY. ATTEMPT AT YOUR OWN RISK. I was in a 2013 Jeep Wrangler JK with a 4” lift and 35” tires and I barely made it. This is not for the faint of heart as this section of the trail is on the ridge line with steep declines on both sides. Use your best judgment. Once you reconnect with Rollins Pass Rd if you go left it will take you to the closed tunnel and if you go right it will take you to the lookout. If you do not wish to go down the steep decline the way that you came up you can take County HWY 80 down on the opposite side of the mountain and it will spit you out at Winter Park. I attempted this trail August 22nd 2018 and there was minimal snow on the mountain side and no snow present on the trail. Hope this helps! Be safe and have fun!

I don’t know if the mileage All Trails has is correct. The U.S.Forest Service lists this as an 8.2 mile hike. Regardless, it’s gorgeous! I went on a Wednesday morning and had Isabelle Lake and Isabelle Glacier’s tarn all to myself. I didn’t do the scramble past the tarn to the official glacier. I had my dogs and lost the trail a little, plus it was very foggy and I didn’t want to get lost. Honestly, just the views as you hike up from the lake to the glacier are all you need. Also, hiking to the tarn (or the third lake) is good enough... don’t really need to see a snowbank. Be careful as the trail can be muddy and hard to follow after the lake (clearly gets much less traffic) and make sure you feel comfortable with the final scramble to the glacier. The Indian Peaks are gorgeous and this is officially one of my top 5 Colorado hikes!

hiking
2 months ago

This is a fun trail and isn't too difficult. It ends with some switchbacks climbing up to the lake, make sure to push through it, it's worth it. The trail is fairly busy at the Hessie trailhead with many people going to Lost Lake. You may need to take the shuttle from Nederland if it's a busy day, the shuttle runs very often. Once you hit the split to Kings Lake it's less crowded with a few back packers, day hikers, and trail runners.

hiking
2 months ago

Left the TH @ 7am and was able to summit at about 8:50. Incredibly windy, foggy and chilly at the summit for mid August but that made it a gorgeous hike in its own sense. Brought my pup, he did well for the last .5-1mi being mostly class 2 scrambling on boulders.

Did Audubon today with the 6 kids ages 7 to 16. everyone loved it. That final push is tough but worth it. The views are outstanding. The marmots are entertaining. Views down to upper Coney lake are mind blowing and that drop is humbling.

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