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This is still one of my favorite hikes. Great views, waterfalls, forest, lake meadows and sweeping views at the pass. At this time there is lots of snow and ice and it is likely the trail will not be passable in the next couple of weeks with any additional snow. Forth of July road was rough but still passable with 4WD drive and decent clearance. No snow on the road at this time. It was very challenging to get to Lake Dorothy. Most people had stopped at the pass and in addition to being sandblasted with snow and ice from hurricane force winds, there was no path to the lake. We tried and got caught in thigh high snow from the drifts. Views at the top were spectacular if you could handle the wind. Great hike. Definitely one to add to the list.

hiking
14 hours 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.

easy with a good climb

Seemed more dry and desolate than most of the trails I've been on. Didn't see any water anywhere which was actually nice at times because of how quiet it got. Great views at the top.

Beautiful hike, lots of scenery and mountains all around you covered in snow. Parking lot (due to road closure) is 3.5 miles away from the lake Isabelle trailhead, entire hike ends up being 12.5 miles. Lake Isabelle is completely frozen over and looks immaculate. Expect a 5 and half hour hike. I would arrive early to get the best views and temperatures.

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.

**there is a separate account for “winter” trail, but this is the first account most people go to** Beautiful hike the entire way. As someone else mentioned the road to Brainard Lake is closed. From parking and back we clocked a round trip of 12 miles to get to Lake Isabelle and back to parking lot. The trail had nice packed snow 90% of the way, the last part before the lake is a little slushy and muddy being exposed to sun which can cause it to be a little slick, so careful if you have some limitations. The lake was completely frozen on 10/20.

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!!

Need spikes! 12 miles.. unable to make it to frozen lake bc of snow. Although the trail won’t ever close, it’s advisable to not take on frozen lake again until the summer. Tough sections for sure but amazing. Many water crossings and bridges :)

Hiked this trail on Wednesday. It was very icy with lots of snow. Road getting to the trailhead was rough too! Better have a high clearance vehicle for this one. Came across a moose and her calf 1/4 mile from the trailhead. They were very close so got some good pics of them. Didn’t seem to mind us at all but they were blocking the trail and I know moose can be aggressive so we made a wide left around them just in case! Very scenic hike but I wouldn’t recommend it this time of year. Snow packed and icy.

Awesome trail with a nice surprise at the top! Good cardio incline at the beginning, middle levels out for you to catch your breath, and then a steep incline at the top. Well worth it tho!

trail running
2 days ago

It’s short but a very fun and rewarding workout. Great views from the top. Hop on the Switzerland trail at the trailhead if you want to add on some mileage.

Trail is boot-packed snow and ice the entire way, so yaktrax were helpful. Helene and Odessa were both frozen over, but still well worth the views. Trail earns its moderate rating as you ascend back up to Helene after Odessa (I can see why people one-way this trail and include Fern Lake). This is definitely a less trafficked trail out of the Bear Lake area—didn’t see a soul for over two hours with a sunrise start.

Awesome hike!

Just a heads up the road to Brainard Lake is closed for the season as of 10/15 so you have to park at the winter lot and hike the 2.5ish miles to the trailhead.

lovely trail with a noice rock at the top pretty busy though

This was a beautiful hike with varying difficulty in the trail throughout and lots of beautiful views along the way. we didn't make it to glacier lake but lake Isabelle was great!

great views and rocky trail makes for low mud on the rare rainy days in BoCo.

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

We do a lot of hiking in Colorado, and for my entire family this is our favorite. It is extremely easy, and just shockingly beautiful the entire way. I can't think of a better place for a hike. We went on a Wednesday, arrived at the park about 7:05 in the morning, and there were only two parking places left. Arriving early and bug spray are both a must!

Hiked 10/4. Mesa trail to fern. Strenuous constant uphill the last mile. Fun scramble at the top!

This hike was incredible! Did it on 10/6. Road going up is a little wild, but not too terrible. Lots of snow at the top, still enough that you can walk on top. But I didn’t have hiking boots and my feet got pretty wet. Stunning stunning views!! You park at the Fourth of July trailhead.

Incredible views. Bring layers. Very windy by the lake

hiking
17 days ago

We did this hike today. Got to trailhead at 630 and got to Black Lake by 1000 am!! The parking lot was empty and hardly anyone on the trails. By the time we returned, there was high traffic on the trails and the parking lot was full.

The views the entire time was gorgeous! You pass by Alberta falls, Loch Lake, and several more smaller water before you get to the lake. The hike itself is more moderate then difficult. We made it difficult for ourselves when we lost the trail and climbed the side of the waterfall to get to black lake. Upon getting there, we realiZed there was a trail that we missed that we could have taken to avoid climbing the waterfall. The lake itself was gorgeous, surrounded by Mountains. The last mile was the toughest but did not involve any rock scrambling, just more inclined steps. Overall it was a good hike, wished it was more difficult though.

Trail had a large amount of traffic on a Tuesday afternoon and some liter, other than that pretty good.
Great scenery, but no vistas. Trail follows Creek most of the way. Just okay viewing of fall foliage.
Lots of dogs off leashes which I don't mind. Trail is really in between easy and moderate.
Given the 70 minute one way drive, I would only come back if I had dogs with me.

Perfect hiking weather today and only encountered a few other hikers on the trail. We took south ridge on the way up to Horsetooth Rock and I would say it was a moderate hike. The summit is gorgeous with views in all directions. I would definitely do this hike again.

Easy hike and busy on a Sat. Beautiful lake at the golden hour! Chilly at the top so bring layers.

So pretty the entire time!! Dog friendly & everyone had their dogs on a leash. Very appreciative of this.

Hiked all the way to the top of the rocks and the views were stunning!!! Highly recommend this hike. There was enough people to not feel isolated but not so many that you felt overcrowded.

Not much water, but easily one of my favorite hikes in Colorado. Keep hiking up to Isabelle Glacier if you’ve got it in ya

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