Blue Lake via Mitchell Lake Trail

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Indian Peaks Wilderness

Blue Lake via Mitchell Lake Trail is a 4.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Ward, 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: 4.8 miles Elevation Gain: 928 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

fee

NOTE: Main gate is closed, so you have to walk about 2 miles on the road to the trailhead, but it’s an easy walk. Although this trail is almost entirely 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 through Brainard Lake Recreation Area is closed. Visitors may park outside of the gate at the Gateway Trailhead. This is free, but it adds 2.5 miles one-way to the hike.

snowshoeing
snow
11 days ago

There was snow from the trailhead (and the last hundred yards of the road or so), but the trail was firm enough that microspikes we're useful. Later in the day the snow got soft enough that snowshoes were handy past Mitchell Lake. The road is still closed, so that adds 2.5 miles each way to the hike (bring a road bike and a lock).

hiking
snow
25 days ago

Probably one of my favorite trails I’ve hiked in CO so far. Hiked this last July of 2019 and the trail still had quite a bit of snow once we got to Mitchell lake and all the way up to blue lake. Didn’t have my micro spikes on though and it was still doable. The first part of the hike up to Mitchell lake is through wooded areas but the trees and foliage start to open up to some incredible views once you hit Mitchell and continue on to Blue Lake. Main gate was closed when I went meaning we had to walk about 2 miles on the road to the trailhead but it’s an easy walk. Can’t wait to come back and hike it again.

hiking
icy
snow
27 days ago

This was an amazing hike. Gate was closed so we had to walk about 2.5 miles from the car to the Mitchell Lake/Blue Lake trailhead. But you get to walk past Red Lake and Brainard Lake which are gorgeous. But it does add an extra 5 miles to your hike. Snow shoes would be quite the asset right now. It’s snow the entire way. We post holed a lot all day. You can make it to Mitchell Lake without them or spikes, but the snow was too deep to get to Blue Lake without snow shoes. We tried and ended up soaked about a mile past Mitchell Lake, sinking 4ft+ in some places and into the stream below the snow. All in all one of the more beautiful hikes I’ve done in CO this time of year.

hiking
7 months ago

Main gate is closed as of 10/15. Lucky enough to get in on the very last day of the season (10/14). This was a beautiful hike and perfect difficulty for a flatlander - not too easy and not too challenging. Would highly recommend, especially on a week day when the crowds aren't as abundant.

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous basin, though of course heavily used (even in October). Pretty mild hike to the lakes if you’re used to the elevation.

Beautiful trail, highly recommend. $12 entry fee to get into the recreational area, parking on a weekend by the Mitchell Lake trailhead is very limited and difficult if you arrive late morning on a weekend. Conditions 10/5 were sunny and a bit windy. Moderate difficulty with gradual incline, very little of the hike had difficult terrain. Did not experience the scrambling some reviewers mentioned. Very dog friendly! Shorter than listed on AllTrails (estimated closet to 5mi)

Almost y miles round trip and 4 1/2 hours. Gorgeous fall hike (no aspens) with beautiful Blue Lake at end. Little Blue Lake is another 2 mi round trip. Steepens in 2nd half and gets real rocky, but it’s worth it!

An absolutely amazing trail. Perfect for this gorgeous autumn day, well manicured and not a ton of traffic.

hiking
8 months ago

I always came to the Brainard Lake area in the afternoon in the last 2 years and enjoyed the Sourdough Trails just outside the gate. So this was my first time to pay $12 and enter the Rec area. I was there at 8:30am on Friday, and theLong Lake TH to Lake Isabelle was already full, so I did the Mitchell Lake to Blue Lake instead. There were many parking spots left. There are 4 (?) lakes along the way, and the trail was very beautiful. It was a very gradual incline, and the beautiful scenery after scenery made this an easy trail. When my dog and I went to the Blue Lake, there was only a few people. On the way back, we have encountered many many people. So if you are going before they close the gate, go early in the morning. I brought light down jacket and fleece jacket, over the half-sleeved T-shirts. I started our with the fleece jacket, changed it to the down jacket, and no jackets as we climbed up. Easy trail with many bog rewards!

hiking
8 months ago

We enjoyed this hike on 9/19. It is not difficult and the views are stellar. The parking lot was full at 1030am on a September Thursday so plan ahead.

hiking
8 months ago

I was determined to make this or Isabella Lake trail in my third summer in Colorado. So I took a day off. At 8:30am, Long Lake parking lot was full, So I ended up with this trail, which, according to the ranger, was more "alpine" trail than Isabella. There were many spots left in the Mitchell Lake parking lot. I started with light fleece pullover and a light down jacket. After Mitchell Lake, the down jacket went to the backpack, and shortly after that, the fleece pullover went into the backpack. The half sleeve T-shirt was good enough. There was a couple of lakes between the Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake. Each lake was beautiful and great distraction that I did not feel the distance at all. There were not many people. And the weather was perfect. There was a little stream from the mountain and my dog really enjoyed the clean cold water near the Blue Lake, When I got to the Blue Lake, there was only a couple of people. I shared a sandwich with my dog and headed back. We met many people who were going up. So far, this is the best trail that I have taken.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

Great moderate hike with stunning views and immaculately maintained! Couldn’t recommend enough!

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail lot of nice views Blue lake is awesome saw a couple moose on The way up Highly recommended

Beautiful trail. Easy hiking - great for a quick trip! Saw lots of Moose. We started at 7AM and finished about 11AM but did some extra hiking that resulted in a distance of 6.6 miles. Great trip! Highly recommend.

hiking
8 months ago

9/10 Tues morning the parking lot had plenty of space at 8 am, likely due to being a weekday. Hike was 5 miles out and back. This trail is slightly more challenging than the hike to Lake Isabelle, but still moderate. Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake are beautiful destinations.

hiking
9 months ago

This wonderful hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area remains one of the best gems in Colorado! The glacier lake, surrounded by rugged peaks, is breathtaking. In the middle beond the lake is the mighty Paiute Peak, a rugged force towering over the serene lake.

Jamie Cam Camille and I left the Mitchell Lake Trailhead at 630. No moose around Brainard today. The first part of the hike was not as pretty as the neighbor hike to Isabelle and I was quite disappointed. Got to Mitchell Lake at sunrise and it was beautiful. Hiked on a while still kinda sad about the scenery until Mount Toll came into view and then the entire expanse of the back of the cirque with Little Pawnee Peak. Mt. Toll. Piute Peak and of course the massive wall of Mt Audubon. Blue lake was amazing. Stopped for lunch and enjoyed the spot tremendously. Asked the Indian Peaks to forgive my bad attitude at the start because this spot is spectacular!! Headed back after an hour and completed the loop in just under 5 hours. Very easy walk but extremely rocky so hiking shoes are a must.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
scramble
9 months ago

Sept 1: Great quicker/short hike with awesome views. If going on the weekend or holiday, get there early (by 7am) to get a spot up at the Mitchell Lake TH. Otherwise, it'll be an 3 miles RT from the Brainard Lake parking lot. BONUS: Moose are cruising through the area on the southside of the trail between Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake. Three moose in the first group, two large bulls in the second group. Enjoy!

hiking
9 months ago

Blue lake. Parking lot was full at 7am!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked on 8/21. The temperature was in the 60’s throughout the day and we had sunshine mixed with a few clouds. Both lakes were absolutely exquisite and there were a bounty of Fall flowers. The hike is moderate due to the many tree roots and rocks we had to navigate, but still a good trail. Saw two bull moose and one cow and her calf. I recommend this hike to everyone looking for a 6 mile adventure.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Saw 4 moose today! This hike was enjoyable and rewarding with not too much effort. Lots of wildflowers and log bridges. Blue lake was amazing today, took my breath away. Will try for little blue lake next time.

hiking
9 months ago

Easy incline pretty lakes. Could use my national parks pass to get in. Otherwise it’s $12. Lots of camping near here.

hiking
9 months ago

Loved This hike. Easy elevation and pretty lakes. Saw a moose!

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Arrived at 10:45 am on a Wednesday and parking was full at both Mitchell Lake and Long Lake trail heads. Was able to get parking near Brainard Lake trailhead and 15 min walk from there to Mitchell Lake Trailhead. Beautiful trail throughout, nice waterfalls and lakes and saw a few marmots. Highly recommend!

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 months ago

Heavily trafficked, even on a Monday. Get there early for the best parking and less crowds. Parking near Brainerd Lake adds on another mile. Well worth the effort to see amazing views. Saw three moose this trip!

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