Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Via Mitchell Lake Trail

MODERATE 386 reviews
#2 of 20 trails in

Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Via Mitchell Lake Trail is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and snowshoeing and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,410 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

Although this trail is mostly in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (Roosevelt National Forest), it starts in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. There is an $11 fee (cash only) to enter this area. From mid-October to mid-June, the road to this trailhead is closed. Visitors may park at the Gateway Trailhead, just outside of the closed gate. However, this adds 5 miles to the trail roundtrip. Parking at the Gateway Trailhead is free. This a fabulous hike in which you will encounter two major lakes (Mitchell and Blue) and several other streams and small ponds. There is abundant wildlife and flowers that offer some of the best photographs. The view of the Continental Divide is also magnificent the closer you get to it. This is listed as a half day hike, but you could do it in 3 hours fairly easily.

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes. IPW is fantastic.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

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
4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

Solid hike, not too hard and great views.

hiking
4 months ago

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

4 months ago

beautiful hike with gentle terrain.

hiking
5 months ago

Three of us hiked up to Blue Lake, then two of us made our way up to Little Blue Lake using the directions from AllTrails... Well we sort of lost the non-existent trail for a little bit...

The map, and the descriptions takes you through a fun but quite precarious boulder field. You would need to have great mobility to make that trip... Or perhaps there was an easier route we missed when we veered off course a tad.

On the return, we found a far easier way up/down following a cut-off which I will try to show in my labeled photo (the one with all the arrows). If you take the tiny trail up, you can zig-zag your way up and across terrain that is far easier to traverse than the boulder field.

It was magnificent, and while there were a fair few people on trail at 10am on that Saturday, it was far from crowded feeling. There was only one person that adventured all the way to Little Blue Lake while we were up there, so that was as serene as can be!

One moose was spotted nearish the trail towards the trailhead.

hiking
5 months ago

Loved this hike! Great workout, beautiful views. We went from brainard lake, to Mitchell lake, to blue lake. We even saw a moose family along the way!

hiking
5 months ago

What an amazing hike! Its really easy with a bit of a strong incline right before blue lake. Super dog and kid friendly plus there is plenty of space at the lake to hang out.

5 months ago

Trail was beautiful. Had some friends from out of town so we didn’t go to Little Blue Lake, but Mitchell and Blue Lake were amazing. Lots of little lakes in between them as well. Top parking lot was full even on a Monday morning, so get there early or prepare to hike from a lower lot.

5 months ago

Beautiful. Easy, rocky terrain, added 2 miles by going all the way to the bowl

hiking
5 months ago

Pretty easy half day hike. You’ll enjoy many streams, ponds, waterfalls along the way!

hiking
5 months ago

Pretty good trail. First part to Mitchell lake had very little elevation gain. Between Mitchell and Blue lake, it got rocky and had more of a steady elevation gain. Didn’t try to get to little blue lake as I had my dogs with me and didn’t want to ruin their feet. Saw a moose in one of the fields between Mitchell and blue. Started at 730am and there were only a few other cars at the trailhead. When I started back, saw a lot of people and trailhead lot was full when I got back to my car around 1030. Would suggest starting early if you’re not a fan of crowds.

hiking
5 months ago

We hiked this trail on Saturday and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a drive even from Boulder, but the road up to Roosevelt National Forest is very pretty. You’ll want to park at the Mitchell Lake trailhead, which as it turns out is where there was parking still available around 9am.
The trail to the lake is quite beautiful and you are surrounded by evergreen trees and vegetation. You will see many colors, especially hiking in September. There are also many viewpoints throughout the hike prior to the lake. The trail itself isn’t very steep or long (about 2.2 miles to the lake) and could be easily done by someone coming from sea level.
The lake is beautiful and the views are spectacular. I would definitely recommend coming with a wind proof jacket, as it was quite windy and cold by the lake. Be sure to also walk around to the other side of the lake to see the views that way.
We tried to hike to Little Blue Lake, but there’s no real “trail” or where most people walk, so it’s a bit of a guessing game on a pretty steep incline while traversing across rocks. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get there without downloading the map or with dogs, as it’s pretty difficult to navigate them across the rocks.
All in, it is a fairly easy hike with with great views!

hiking
5 months ago

Fantastic scenery through several different alpine environments

hiking
5 months ago

My 3rd hike and her 1st. This was a challenging but fun trail. Beautiful views throughout but very windy and a little cold. We stopped to eat at Blue Lake and she was really cold from the unrelenting wind so we did not go to Little Blue Lake. The wind blew my hat off at Mitchell Lake and I was unable to locate it in the bushes. Green hat and green bushes made it slightly difficult. We took beautiful pictures but decided we liked being subalpine and below. I liked the challenge of going to higher elevations and will do it again when alone. Was not near as busy and was more challenging than some of the trails I did in RMNP.

5 months ago

Awesome!

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike! Started hiking around 915, however, if you want a spot up at Mitchell on a weekend, you are going to want to get there much earlier. When I got there at 9 it was pretty hard for me to find a parking spot. Then when I was leaving the park around 1230 there was at least a 20 car line at the checkpoint! So getting an early start is a must, at least on a weekend, As for the hike, it was quite easy with a very well marked trail. Meanwhile the views at blue lake looking up at Mt. Toll are incredible. Definitely take some time to soak it all in. It was quite windy and cold at the lake, so I would highly recommend bringing a hat and gloves.

hiking
5 months ago

Ah, beautiful hike for sure. I had a similar experience as the last reviewer. So special to see those moose on the way in. The hike itself was perfect if hiking with dogs as it has several creeks/lakes along the way. The views are gorgeous all the way. After hanging at Blue Lake for a while, we started the climb to Little Blue Lake. Unfortunately, it was a little too rocky for my dog and there really isn't a trail so we turned around. I'd love to come back at some point so we can make it all the way. The parking lot was pretty full and lots of cars driving in as I drove out around 10:45 am. I think it's worth arriving early and hiking a less crowded trail if visiting on a weekend.

hiking
5 months ago

We arrived on Sunday about 6:45am was able to park in the Mitchell Parking lot. On the drive in was able to see numerous moose on the drive in. Great hike! Great views! A little over 6 miles rt, completed in 3 hours.

hiking
5 months ago

We arrived 6:55 am Saturday. Mitchell Lake/Blue Lake trailhead parking lot was filled. No big deal. It adds 0.80 miles from Brainard parking to trailhead - easy peasy.

The Mitchell to Blue Lake hike is moderate. You'll be treated to several bodies of water along the way to Blue Lake. Blue Lake is spectacular, and the trail is easy to follow. Spend some time soaking in the beauty.

The hike to Upper Blue Lake (Little Blue Lake) is strenuous, challenging and steep in spots.

Initially, the trail from Blue Lake continues partially around the lake.

The Alltrails recording eventually leads you to another lake, a stunning close-up mountain panorama, and views of a waterfall. Mt Toll is breathtaking and dominates the landscape.

But, we came to a steep boulder field, no marked trail, save a few scattered cairns you may or may not see. We tracked to the right of the rocks/talus and opted for the boulders.

It's a strenuous scramble up to the lake; take your time, choose your line carefully, route-finding skills help. After reaching the Upper Lake, we turned right and made our way back to Blue Lake - clockwise loop. Poles came in handy on the steep descent that contained plenty of scree.

Challenging, rewarding, difficult (Upper Blue Lake), and beautiful.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike on a chilly August day. The trail can be a bit rocky at times but it's never very steep at all so I'd rate it fairly easy as long as you can do the mileage. I wore my trail running shoes which were perfectly adequate.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail! Shaded for quite a bit of it, until the last 3/4 mile or so. Very rocky so hiking boots are helpful. Blue lake is beautiful. Saw a moose!

hiking
5 months ago

Did this hike on Friday 8/17 and loved it. Do keep in mind that you either need a National Park Pass to get in or you have to pay $11. At 9 am there were quite a few cars, but I didn’t actually see that many people on the trail until I was heading down around 1130. So, highly recommend getting there a bit earlier to have more of the trail to yourself. It’s a very well-groomed National Park trail, so doesn’t feel as remote or backcountry but is also very easy to follow. I also highly recommend going up to Little Blue Lake. The trail gets less clear as you ascend above Blue Lake, but if you keep going up and around Blue Lake to the right you’ll find it. Me and my dog had Little Blue, right at the base of Mt Toll, all to ourselves. It is really gorgeous up there. Will definitely be doing this one again.

6 months ago

Great hike!

6 months ago

Now one of my top five all-time favorites. First time I have done this hike. Only went to Blue Lake—didn’t do the rock scramble up to Little Blue Lake. Has a little bit of everything: river crossings, valley views, lake views, etc. I prepared for mosquitos after seeing all the reviews where people got eaten alive, but we went mid-August and some of the wet areas were dried up, so I’m thinking the breeding grounds weren’t as plentiful. We didn’t see a single mosquito. Most of the wildflowers were done, but there were still some blooming here and there. We saw a female moose and her baby lounging in a meadow. On the way back we saw a bull moose across one of the ponds. Also saw various other smaller wildlife. Nice to have facilities right at the trailhead. Went on a Thursday morning at 8 am and got in no problem, but there were plenty of cars in the parking lot.

6 months ago

Great hike. If you're going to go, get there early. Parking fills up and then you have to wait to even get in the park. The path is a little rocky, but not bad and the views are awesome.

hiking
6 months ago

Just do it. Phenomenal

hiking
6 months ago

Didn’t get up to area until 10:30am, on a Monday however no trouble parking at brainard lake parking. Beautiful lakes, meandering paths until you reach Mitchell lake then it is rocky path up to blue lake which is not difficult to navigate. Trails very well marked. Did not attempt little blue, however, it must be beautiful. I can only imagine. It must be a very steep rocky ascent. It wasn’t overly crowded however once at blue lake you certainly see and hear others. I can’t imagine it with more people. We did have a moose sighting which was a gift. This hike is now one of my must dos during my annual visit Home to Boulder

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