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Beautiful hike! The road to Monarch Lake is closed for the season, so know you'll have about an extra mile each way. We saw a family of moose close to the trailhead, lots of animal prints around Monarch Lake so be aware. Snow was well packed for most of the trail, but once you reach the switchbacks after Monarch Lake you'll probably want snowshoes, as XC skiers don't go there. We only made it to Cascade Falls and the trip took about 6 hours RT. Anyone else trying it out in the winter - good luck!

One of my favorites, can’t go wrong in the Brainard Lake area really :) one thing I learned this year: Lake Isabelle serves as a reservoir, and at the beginning of September if gets largely drained. Still a beautiful hike with long lake, a waterfall, and happy doggos. Always see moose up in this area, and marmots and pika often chirp alongside the lake.

—December 17–
Went for a day long hike up Ute Creek trailhead attempting to reach bison peak. Did not see a single person at the trailhead or on the trail. First mile is a easy going walk along the river then climbs over 2000’ within a couple miles. Definitely a difficult trail and with snow/ice covered at higher altitudes. Unfortunately didn’t reach summit due to time getting late and difficult trail conditions. Great views around tree line with views of many major peaks in Colorado. Planning to go back in the future and discover more of lost park.

Beautiful area. Attempted this on December 15th. You can't drive all the way to the trail head. You can only get to about a mile from the trail head. Temps were in the teens to single digits. Needed snowshoes for significant portions of the ascent and descent. Micro spikes worked fine for the majority of the ridgelines. I was with others that had crampons and I believe they had an easier time. Winds were the worst I've ever encountered. 40+ mph sustained all day. Gusts were easily 60+ mph. Was knocked off my feet a few times. Made the day very very cold and difficult. I only made Bross and Cameron. Lincoln was visibly windier than everywhere else...just so exposed. By the time I got around to Democrat, I was just beaten up by the wind so came on down. Will definitely go back and give it another shot. You can't blame the hike for the conditions.

Did this guy over the summer with my family. It was their first 14er and they weren't too happy about it... but I absolutely loved it, especially since you can hit 4 peaks in 1 day. One recommendation is hiking the trail counterclockwise. Bross is a nightmare. I felt bad for the people descending Bross

Words can not express this awesome trail. I will definitely be back since it's technically my backyard now. Only downside is I was with a beginner and didn't take them all the way to the lake. Next time that is a must. Meet an awesome boonedocker on the way out had a great conversation.Keep living your life buddy as I will do the same. It was a near perfect hike from the views...people..to the weather. Still in Awe...

Nov 19 , 2018

Use caution with the map above, this expansive wilderness area is more of a web of trails as opposed to a clearly defined loop. I'd recommend an Lost Creek Wilderness map, and also to start Brookside rather than Wigwam. The last day going clockwise was ridiculous. Other than it being a difficult hike, the scenery and wildlife were second to none for this being so close to the front range.

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.

hiking
3 months ago

Has some really neat rocks at the top and has great views. As far as I know, there's no trail from the saddle to the summit.

**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.

Third time hiking this trail (first during winter and the second during summer). Despite it being mid-October, there was still a lot of snow on the upper two-thirds of the trail, so definitely bring appropriate gear and be prepared to stay out all day; it's a very long trek. Mirror Lake was frozen over but there are some nearby streams to get fresh water, if needed. Also, the gate to access Monarch Lake trailhead was open, but I know they close it as it gets closer to winter so double-check this before heading out, as it can add an extra 2 miles (round trip) to the hike. Otherwise, beautiful hike - one of my favorites in Colorado.

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.

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!

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!

If you're looking for a challenging hike and some great exercise this is the hike for you! Unfortunately, when we reached the summit we had very limited visibility of the boulders - however, the hike as a whole was beautiful and there were a ton of yellow Aspens. The entire hike we only passed about 4 people total which also made this hike that much better.

Comfortable slope up to wilderness boundary where two other trails branch off to access canyons to the north and east. Huge wide valley filled with the yellow and orange fall brilliance of aspens.

Incredible views. Bring layers. Very windy by the lake

Better than I thought. I went on a Monday so there were fewer ppl. I less than a day if you start around 6:30. You could drive to Quandary or something and get that one done too if you have a good pace. It is a rocky and the abandoned mines are pretty neat. Overall I enjoyed what it had to offer.

Truly an awesome experience. So glad to do it. And the dogs loved it too. Moderately full lot. Don’t go all the way to the top of the parking lot without high clearance. Keep an eye out for active mines on the road up and ruins of mines throughout the hike. Perfectly sunny day but it was entirely above 12,000 feet on the last day of September so I wore ski hat, ski mittens, ski pants and a fleece the whole way. Started up Democrat at 730a. Democrat is pretty steep. About 1 3/4 hours to that summit. Went back down to the saddle then up Cameron. It’s tough but not as tough as Democrat. Cameron has several false summits. Only about 900 vertical instead of 2,100-2,200. Another 1 1/4 for that leg. Cameron is a weird domed summit and then you feel like you’re taking a leisurely walk down to the Lincoln saddle. You don’t even feel like you’re descending but you do about 200 feet. Lincoln is by far the most interesting looking of the mountains and you can ram up the 250 feet or so on a very well worn trail in 20 minutes or so. Take the same trail down Lincoln and take an easy traverse around the side of Cameron to Bross. Another gentle trail brings you up Bross. We headed down the trail from Bross at noon (4 1/2 hours) and oh crap that’s when it gets hard. I forgot my poles at home and really regretted it. Don’t be that guy: bring your poles. I read other reviews on this site about the scree field going down Bross and thought people were exaggerating. They’re not. This was an hour and a half of making sure each step doesn’t send you sliding off the mountain. I loved it once I was done as that descent was one of the more challenging experiences of my life. But I could see where many people would only want to do Democrat and Cameron (once you go down Cameron to the Lincoln saddle, you either have to descend via Bross or summit Cameron again). A perfect day for me and the dog did fine, but this full loop is not for everyone.

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.

Probably one of the best hikes I’ve done in CO. Like others have said, makes for a LONG day hike - still so worth it. Wish I had 2 or 3 nights to explore the surrounding Crater Lakes area.

There are 12 designated camping spots around crater lake. On a Saturday the place was packed with campers. The ranger must’ve given out at least a dozen citations. Even though permits are not required at this time of year, got to get up there early to claim a spot.

Will definitely be bringing the pack for next time!

Was really windy. Got to the trail at 5 and climbed bross route first. It was a bit of scree and loose rocks. We made it for sunrise. It's nice to have the wind shelters on top. We left and got destroyed by wind on our way to Lincoln. Wasn't to hard to grab the second one, we were done with that and then Cameron at 8 or so. then came down to the base of Democrat ate some, and were up to the top at 10. Down to the car at 11. So about 6 hours total. bring Lots of layers because of the wind, heat, cold. Amazing views, most of the work is at the beginning and end.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful Hike, I started at Rainbow Trailhead and hiked too and around the reservoir in the counterclockwise direction. Lots of aspens changing colors for the fall! (29 Sep 2018) I started at sunrise and didn't run into anyone for the 1st several hours of the hike. The reservoir was very low, but, the hike is still very enjoyable and not very difficult, aside from the distance.

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

If you want to go to Crater Lake I would definitely suggest doing an overnight backpacking trip. Its too far for one day. I think its also longer than listed. I saw a lot of HUGE moose. Bring tons of water. Don’t do it alone like I did.

Very easy trail, a few steep-ish climbs right before the lake. A lot of bang for your effort with fantastic views at the end. The lake is currently low due to the drought, but still an amazing sight. Watch for moose, as a bull lives here with his family - I actually saw the bull chase away some idiots with their unleashed dog.

The lake was low when we went in September, but it was still super beautiful. I've done this trail multiple times over the years and it's still one of my favorites. The top is windy, so bring a jacket!

Amazing views, easy hike! It’s on my favorites list now!

It's a pretty tough trail and if you are from the plains or lower evaluations, it will definitely test you. I am a big dude, no doubt, but it wasn't my fitness as much the amount of just scree and rock at points that made me want to turn back and once it goes up, it's just steep. We made it to Cameron before I tweaked my ankle and say it wasn't worth it hit Lincoln, which didn't make me happy, but safety before pride.

Road from Alma to the trailhead is alright, but the last mile or so is rough going if you don't drive dirt roads or have 4WD. I drove my Chevy Cruze as close as parking would allow.

Weather was awesome, I didn't even use my jacket. Wind pickup on the ridge, but it wasn't freezing, but we didn't hang out long.

Overall, it's completely doable, but as a fat guy who causally plays in the woods and canyons, I wouldn't exactly call it fun or easy. It was a change of pace, had good views, nice people, and got the heart going.

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