Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Via Mitchell Lake Trail

MODERATE 406 reviews
#3 of 114 trails in

Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Via Mitchell Lake Trail is a 6.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,404 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

There are a couple of Blue Lakes in the Colorado front range. This one is located in the Roosevelt National Forest north of Nederland, near the small community of Ward. It is 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. You will need to pay $10 for a day pass to park at the trailhead.

3 days ago

beautiful hike with gentle terrain.

hiking
4 days 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 days 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
6 days 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.

11 days 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.

15 days ago

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

hiking
16 days ago

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

hiking
16 days 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
19 days 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
19 days ago

Fantastic scenery through several different alpine environments

hiking
26 days 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.

27 days ago

Awesome!

hiking
27 days 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
27 days 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
28 days 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
28 days 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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.

1 month ago

Great hike!

1 month 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.

1 month 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
1 month ago

Just do it. Phenomenal

hiking
1 month 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

1 month ago

Beautiful hike on August 6, 2018.

hiking
1 month ago

A great, moderate hike. My wife and I didn't make it up to Little Blue Lake, and by the time we made it to Blue Lake, it looked like it was going to storm on the day we visited, 8-5-18. Blue Lake was still a great spot eat lunch and take some pictures. It ended up not storming, so we'll be back soon to do a complete circuit.

There were still plenty of wildflowers in bloom, and we arrived shortly after a lengthy bout of rain, so some of the streams were overflowing and added to scenery and enjoyment. We missed sighting a moose with her 2 calves by just a few minutes, but saw plenty of birds and rodents. The route was well maintained and not densely trafficked while visiting on a Sunday morning and in fact we had about a quarter mile stretch on the way back where it was just the two of us. Excellent photography opportunities along the way. I look forward to returning

hiking
1 month ago

A dramatic backdrop, wildflowers, wildlife, multiple lakes and waterfalls... this trail really does have it all! (and has quickly moved up my list of favorite hikes to do in Colorado). Echoing the reviews already posted, yes definitely get there early... I arrived at 7 AM on a rainy Sunday and the parking lot was still filling up pretty quickly. Also, the rocky scramble up to Little Blue Lake is pretty challenging and not very well marked... beautiful up there, but certainly not for all skill sets. Blue Lake alone is still well worth the trip though!

1 month ago

great hike,views are amazing. and wild life everywhere.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy hike to Blue Lake. Great for an inflatable boat.

hiking
1 month ago

After reading many reviews here, we got to the trailhead at 6:30am (on a Thursday) and there were only a few cars in the lot. Hardly anyone on the trail at that time. Around 7:45-8am we nearly ran into two bull moose eating right on the trail! We had just come to the top of a steep hill and couldn’t see them until we got to the top. Very cool though- maybe 50 yards from us. We also saw two big buck closer to the lake. The views are spectacular and have everything you’d want to see/ views, wildflowers were still in bloom (8/2/18), waterfalls, wildlife etc. The entire trail is pretty rocky so it slowed us down a bit.. but we did also stop a lot to take pictures. Coming down the trail around 9:30-10:30 we passed tons of people. If you want to see wildlife I’d definitely go early morning or late afternoon.

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