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best starter hike 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.

As of 10/16 the gate was closed before the fee station which adds about 5 miles RT to any hike you plan to do. The road has some snow/ice but also has large dry stretches. Once you get near the Mitchell Lake TH you will be on snow the whole time. The trail is packed down for most of the way. I brought microspikes and snowshoes. Never put the spikes on, but snowshoes were very helpful once I got about 1/4 mile below Blue Lake. Was glad to have gaiters and waterproof boots. Beautiful hike.

Incredible experience! Dress warm and wear shoes for winter conditions. $11 FEE. This hike is full of captivating views of towering mountains and frozen lakes. 4.9/5!

Hop over to here2summitup.wordpress.com for a detailed description with pictures and videos of this hike! Follow @2_Summit_Up on Instagram to see this hike and more adventures.

hiking
2 days ago

The trail is beautiful. The day we went, it had snowed earlier in the week, then partially melted, then absolutely deep-freeze froze, then it was super slippery. Our group could not continue to Emerald due to the slow ascent and descent. Those who had some sort of trail traction blazed past us, safely and not really impacted. Do yourself a favor and go get yourself 1 pair for you and 1 for your ill-prepared friend, so that you both can blaze up and down the trail. You don't have to get them from Amazon; buy locally if you want, but they are less than $20/pair and essentially make a difference of whether or not you can hike that day. https://www.amazon.com/Yaktrax-Walk-Traction-Cleats-Walking/dp/B01LJ6FX3C And each of my kids is getting a pair for Chrismas this year. Lesson learned.

$11 day use fee, there are better places in the area with no fee and less crowded. The sign said something ambiguous about there being no fee during winter, so I watched a few others drive in without paying and assumed it must be winter. Trail was icy, used yaktrax. Snow was deep past Isabelle lake. I think you can park back a couple miles from the long lake TH and walk in for free.

Good description of trail and views. Mid October was very nice. Not too warm. Trail could’ve been marked better.

A gorgeous place to visit but they don't allow dogs any more. Which is kind of ridiculous. So only two stars.

Moderate to easy hike, Blue lake is gorgeous! Snow and ice on much of the trail now. Cold and windy at top, but worth the work.

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 moderate trail.

Solid hike, not too hard and great views.

hiking
6 days ago

I loved the walk! It was easy and gave ya some work uphill. It was very very windy.. sometimes you can see the Elk and sometimes you can’t. Great for families with strollers!

Mentally and physically challenging!! Don’t give up, best reward is to get to the top!

Great hike! Loved everything about this one- smaller distance but you still get a nice workout in. As others have stated, the view at the end is amazing. I enjoyed the trail as well- lots of trees and openness. Only saw one other person on the trail today- little bit of snow off to the side.

Very easy walk on either paved or gravel path. Many dogs with most on leashes. Easy to take jogging or all terrain stroller on the path. Several bikers, but most called out that they were coming up behind you. Some good views of the mountains and Flatirons.

Another one of my favorite hikes. Used to hike it regularly when living in Colorado Springs.

A terrific trail to view and appreciate the beauty contained within Garden of the Gods Park. Not only outstanding scenery but definitely less traveled than the central garden paths. Be certain to keep a watchful eye out for Bighorn Sheep on the Northern portion of the trail. Plenty of photo opportunities along this trail featuring plenty of fabulous red rock formations.

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!

backpacking
10 days ago

This is an excellent, short trail that offers the opportunity to attain a peak that rewards the hiker with some gorgeous views. It's not the most exciting or the most challenging trail in the area, by any means, but its convenience, length, and difficulty level make it an ideal choice for a short escape or for a hike with newer hikers. I highly recommend being at the peak for the sunrise.

hiking
11 days ago

I was here Sept 24th and started at Brainard Lake and made my way a little passed Long lake before turning back. It was Chilly and windy at Brainard and once I got up to around Long lake it was Raining with some Snow mixed in so make sure you dress in appropriate Clothing and wear layers. It was a Monday when I was there and Only a Few Cars in the parking lot. Beautiful & short hike that I will definitely be back to do again!!!

on Seven Bridges Trail

11 days ago

Well marked and great views. Great trail to see some wildlife if the right time of year.

hiking
11 days ago

Don’t give up! It is the best feeling ever when you get to the top❤️

Great trail!! The dogs loved it, and me and my friend loved it. It was not far outside of Loveland. And like others have said, it is pretty rocky the farther you go. Like big red rock slabs! This is a super dusty walk though..just FYI. I really enjoyed myself though.. it was a nice incline and not too crazy. Everyone was respectful and nice.

Hello! Oh man.. where are my dog people to help a sistah out? This trail in its entirety is NOT DOG FRIENDLY. I hope All Trails can change to "some parts of the trail are accessible for dogs." I only saw one review with any robust mentioning of dogs and what you can't access here.

The Spring Loop goes north and south, and the south part of the loop does not allow dogs. There are several places in this area that do not allow dogs. I heard from another hiker that this was due to bears...but not sure what would stop them from moving to the other side. My friend and I had to do another part of the trail.. still pretty, but was an out and back instead of a loop. That was disappointing. The sign on the trailhead says no dogs on the south side and on one other part, but All Trails made me think we could do a loop by the above description. Not true! It says you will get fined, and yes, there were rangers out.

Here are the good parts:
BATHROOM: YES
PARKING LOT: YES
FEE: $5 for non Boulder County residents
TERRAIN: Pretty smooth... a few gravelly areas, but mainly nice!
VIEWS: The lush fall colors were in effect. Pretty meadows and some forest areas.

Here are the bad parts (sorry bikers..)
BIKING: Tons of bikers! Beware. I wouldn't wear headphones. NO. Too many trail runners and bikers. At one point coming back down, we got stuck in a spot because there were so many bikers/runners that we tried to pull over for. Most were nice, but they DID NOT use bells of any sort to warn people. I was surprised I couldn't hear the bikers behind me until they were right up on us.

SINGLE FILE TRAIL IN SOME AREAS: some areas are wide open and so nice, but some parts are single file and hard to get off to the side for the fast-rushing bikers.

OVERALL: I was much happier as we moved on into the mountain...less peeps and just gorgeous fall colors. There is hardly any shade, so it is more of a fall hike. Tons of people and the issue with no dogs on the south made for a different hike than expected. I liked the North Loop part very much and liked down to the Fowler part of the trail. Very well marked. Beware though- lots of people and lots of bikers make for a bit of a "look behind your shoulder all the time" effect.

This was a great hike!
I tried to reach little blue lake but I could not find the trail for the life of me. After about 1mile of pushing on towards little blue lake I gave up, my dog was not happy with all the small boulders and snow causing us to fall a lot.
Otherwise I would do it again in the spring when everything is green

Great but strenuous hike! We took Homestead trail, which is a small offshoot to the left as you’re heading in, to Shadow Canyon. We enjoyed Homestead because it’s less trafficked and smaller than Mesa trail, which is sort of like walking on a rocky road, but you can take either to get to Shadow Canyon. Shadow Canyon gets to be quite difficult, but is well worth it when you reach the top. Excellent views into the mountains and of Boulder. It took us 3 hours to reach the summit with a few short breaks, and 2:20 to get back to the parking lot. We were worked but satisfied!

Love this hike!!

We went up Mesa trail to Shadow Canyon to South Boulder Peak trail. We somehow missed Towhee trail and couldn't find Homestead so we took Mesa. That added mileage. The trails are beautiful, especially in the fall. You climb in ernest on Shadow Canyon trail. It's definitely hard but not the hardest I've hiked! You are scrambling at some parts of the trail but mostly just large steps/lunges. Overall great hike! Parking is $5. Get there early for a spot, like 11am?

Easy to find, good parking and the views driving to this hike were stunning at this time of year. Only wish there was a trail marker closer to the top. The end view is beautiful and yesterday the fog was still on some of the mountains, so we had aspens, pancake rocks, fog, sunshine and beautiful blue skies. I really enjoyed this hike.

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