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Brainard Lake from Gateway Trailhead is a 5.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Ward, Colorado that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 5.6 mi Elevation gain 462 ft Route type Loop
Dogs on leash Kid friendly Hiking Nature trips Snowshoeing Walking Bird watching Running Forest Lake Views Wild flowers Wildlife Snow Fee
Description
Waypoints (0)

During the winter the gate to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area is closed, so visitors must park at the parking lot shown here. There is no fee, because visitors are parking outside of the park. During the summer, the road through the park is open, but there is a $11 fee (cash only) to enter. This is a popular snowshoe route, as all snowshoers must park here during winter regardless. Although dogs are allowed to use this trail during the summer, they are not allowed to during the winter.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (161)
Photos (425)
Recordings (151)
Completed (342)
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Kevin Koprowski
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HikingGreat!
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J Carmichael
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Hiking
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Jeremy Boothe
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Hiking

Tough trail, but the lake was beautiful.

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ThanhTu Nguyen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020
Hiking

Have to park outside the gate because it was crowded but I didn't really mind the walk. The view is beautiful and there was plenty of space around the lake for everyone.

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Jericho Goering
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HikingMuddyRockyScrambleSnow

Super pretty trail, however, quite a few patches of deep snow, freshly downed trees, and lots of mud. Made it just past the bridge over the river and turned back, would like to hit harder once it’s dried up better

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Donald Knoelke
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Hiking

Beautiful - still snowy for sure

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Laura Reese
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HikingIcy
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Erin Wear
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 11, 2020
HikingSnow

We used Brainard Lake Rd., parked at the winter parking lot and just walked the road all the way to the lake. Started around 5am got to the lake around 6am. A few other mountain bikers and hikers there as well at that time. No wildlife at the lake it’s still pretty frozen and snow covered with the exception of the north side of the lake starting to thaw. Didn’t need spikes or anything because it was windy and cold, everything was packed down pretty good.

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Kiran Hegde
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HikingIcySnow

Spikes will be useful for couple of snow patches, but can be done without them. Snowshoe is definitely needed for further trails.

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Danielle Cosgrove
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HikingIcy

This was our first time out to Brainard Lake. We started at the very top near the park entrance. Lots of snow still on the road and it was getting melted so every time I took a step I sunk in 3 feet. It was my mistake wearing just hiking boots but I didn’t realize how much snow there would be. I thought maybe some but now as much as I saw!

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Anastasia Bondar
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HikingSnow

My trail running shoes were fine for most of it, spikes were a nice touch in some spots closer to the lake. We wanted to go to Long Lake but were post-holing when we tried to go any further. Ideal snowshoes hike if you want to get to the other lakes. Incredibly windy- hat, gloves and wind breaker were necessary. Around 5.2 miles round trip and 1000ft elevation gain.

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Cass Tanz
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HikingSnow

Hiked on 4/18/20. Arrived to the winter parking lot around 9 AM. Was mostly full when we arrived and busier than I thought it was going to be. There were some cross county skiers on the snowshoeing trail. If you’re using the snowshoeing trail make sure you follow the arrows and use it in the correct direction. Gets tricky to pass people if you’re going opposite ways. Overall a great spot to snowshoe around.

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Jenna Eagle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 6, 2020
HikingSnow

[4-5-20] Like the description says, I parked in a lot outside of the park and walked in. It was all snow and was so beautiful. I only had hiking boots, but will be back with snowshoes so I can do the full thing. Wasn't too busy. A great social distancing hike.

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Jennifer Prokop
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HikingSnow

Packed snow trail, not too icy.

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Michael Schmitt
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Cross Country Skiing
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Jennifer Prokop
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HikingSnow

Perfect social distancing joke. Only a handful of cars in the lot and only saw 5 people from a distance.

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Aidan Peairs
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HikingSnow
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Rachael Gonzales
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HikingSnow
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Brianna Merrill
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HikingSnow

Mid February: Forested, heavily-trafficked snowshoe trail. The view of the mountains at Brainard Lake is beautiful and very windy!

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N G
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 1, 2020
HikingSnow

Went snowshoeing on the winter snowshoe trail last weekend. It was a great hike! There were some people without snowshoes, but I would definitely recommend them since there was so much snow.

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Ammar AGA
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HikingIcySnow
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Margery Ellis
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HikingSnow
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P T
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 4, 2020
HikingSnow

Beautiful day! Snowshoed to the lake- packed snow until campgrounds.

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Cole Sprague
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 4, 2020
Snowshoeing

Early start and plenty of parking at winter trailhead. Snowshoes only needed if you use the designated snowshoe trail. If you stay on the road to Brainard Lake, microspikes are useful but not mandatory. Absolutely beautiful both in the woods and at the lake. The wind coming over the Divide was crazy strong at Brainard lake.

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Larissa Castro
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HikingSnow
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