Brainard Lake via Waldrop and Ski Trail

MODERATE 247 reviews

Brainard Lake via Waldrop and Ski Trail is a 6.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Ward, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. 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.

Distance: 6.3 miles Elevation Gain: 554 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

This trail begins on Waldrop Trail #814 and takes the CMC Ski Trail #814.2 back. The Ski Trail is not an official and if you wish for of a more clear path back, take Waldrop Trail or Brainard Lake Road back to the start. There is no fee to do this hike, as it starts outside of Brainard Lake Recreation Area. The gate is closed during the winter, so this is a popular snowshoeing route. Although dogs are allowed in this area during the summer, they are not allowed to do this loop during the winter.

hiking
icy
snow
6 days ago

Awesome day on the Sourdough and Waldrop Trail to Brainard Lake! Good day to ignore weather forecast cus although it was a cold 13°, the sun came out, we saw some blue sky and there was little to no wind, especially at the lake! Waldrop Trail was quiet, peaceful and packed down snow only requiring Microspikes. Deep post holing snow if you stepped off trail! We started out around 10am and only group on trail till return trip. Saw four fat bikes and lots of x-country skiers. It was a great day!

hiking
snow
13 days ago

Easy and fun. Didn’t need snowshoes. Snow was packed down!

snowshoeing
snow
14 days ago

Completed this today. Great conditions for snowshoes. We were the first on the trails. The trees sheltered us from the wind.

snowshoeing
snow
15 days ago

hiking
snow
17 days ago

Great day of snowshoeing, multiple trails and routes between the 2 lakes. Highly recommend

hiking
21 days ago

I lost my car key snowshoeing to the Brainard Lake Hut today. If you find it, please contact me at julesmariecooks@yahoo.com. Thank you so much. It's a black key fob for a Honda CRV.

snowshoeing
23 days ago

Good day of snowshoeing. Snow was well packed and good cover. We need to get an earlier start next time to have enough time to make it to the lake. Came back on the road, and that was a mistake, Hard packed and thin cover in spots. I should have taken the dedicated snowshoe trail.

hiking
snow
27 days ago

The trail was pretty packed down for microspikes for the first 2 miles then I would switch to snowshoes the closer to brainard lake. I suggest starting before 8am, the views are incredible!

Certainly would have been easier with snowshoes- I forgot mine but had my microspikes with me. Doable, but had to be very mindful of where I stepped. Otherwise a beautiful day. A little windy at the lake but no bad otherwise. I ended up taking the road back to the TH to make it a little easier.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Great snowshoeing - it was a winter wonderland

snowshoeing
snow
1 month ago

Went 12/11/19. Went up Waldrop to South St. Vrain, then on Brainard Lake cutoff to the lake. Returned on Brainard Lk. Road. Nice quiet trek going up. Lower trails snowpacked, upper more powdery. Snowshoes worked well on up hike. Brainard Lake Rd. mostly snow packed, spikes better choice. Covered 5.5 miles. Windy in open areas, quiet in trees. Temps in the 30's and partly cloudy. Lake area very scenic. Great hike.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Nice quiet winter hike. Completed this trip on a weekday and only saw a handful of other people. The area received 2' of snow during last week's storm but appeared to have a high volume of visitors over the weekend, so we snowshoed the route on well-packed snow. There were some pretty heavy gusts of wind in the area (35+ mph according to the weather report) but most of the route is under good tree cover so that wasn't really a problem. There is a nice picnic shelter near the lake where we ate lunch that blocked the wind gusts. The view of the lake, of course, is always spectacular but especially so in winter.

hiking
3 months ago

This is a good hike if you're using it as the alternative to paying to get into the park, but if you thought it was a nice hike to a remote lake (which I did) - I honestly would not recommend it. The walk through the woods is very beautiful, but you end a lake that is surrounded by a road and can be easily reached by a car - so did not feel very accomplished and found it to be a let down and relatively boring.

hiking
4 months ago

Completed on 8.31.19 Only saw 2 people on the Waldrup trail to the lake. It was a nice quiet hike to the lake but then the lake was pretty busy, not what i expected. Walked around and then attempted the Little Raven trail but it was difficult to follow and had very tall grass. We ended up turning around and took Waldrup back.

Beautiful out and back trail!

hiking
5 months ago

really enjoyed this hike. like other people have said, I had a difficult time finding the rest of the loop once you made it to Brainerd lake. Looking at the map I think the rest of the loop is actually a snowshoeing trail that is only accessible in the winter. We made it an out and back trail as well. This is a good hike to do if you don't want as much foot traffic and to compete for parking spaces. when we left around 1 pm the parking lot wasn't even half full.

Good trail to the lake and you don’t have to pay since you park outside of the recreation area. We just had trouble finding the second part of the loop. The trail that is shown on the map isn’t really maintained so we had to walk back up the road and cut over to Waldrup again to get back to the car. If I would have know, I would have just done it as an out and back, not a loop.

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
5 months ago

We got to the trail head right at 9:00 am and there were just a few cars! First half was beautiful, very lush and wonderful before we got to Brainerd lake. Then, we followed the road around the lake, where all trails tells us to, also great. Saw the old chimneys where the homes used to be, that was cool, then we started losing the trail. It was definitely geared more for winter cross country skiing. We continued on, but it got way harder to navigate and we often stepped in mud puddles that were pretty deep. With the standing swampy water, there were lots of bugs. It was also very overgrown with no path. Another thing; we followed moose tracks and droppings on this trail, both lookin’ fresh, so that made us a bit more nervous in the second half of this loop. We’ve heard Moose are mean.. so I also recommend turning around at Brainerd lake and taking the same trail back!

hiking
muddy
over grown
5 months ago

Very beautiful and well maintained park, the first half of the hike was through a marsh and it was essentially wandering through a swamp for a mile. If you cut out that piece of the loop that runs parallel to the road the hike is perfect and amazing. Gorgeous views and rivers throughout the hike. Worth every minute!!

hiking
6 months ago

The name of this trail is super misleading. You don’t go to Mitchell lake trail at all. I accidentally added 2 extra miles to this trail bc I thought that is where you’d venture to. Also once I got to the cross roads between Waldrup, Vrain and Brainaird lake trail, AllTrails map showed me off the trail no matter which way I went. Overall this trail is nice but the first two miles all nearly are forested with no views. There is shade which is nice. Lots of small water crossings and lots of mud. Also I live at elevation and am a fairly avid hiker and I feel the elevation gain for this hike is way higher than 500ft.

hiking
bugs
6 months ago

Warning: do not do the full loop unless you want to get super muddy and use route finding skills as there is no trail. The trail back from Branard Lake is a cross country ski trail and mucky and no trail is visible. You could do it using GPS, but why? Instead, just go out and back in the Waldrop trail. It’s a wonderful trail and partly shaded without much elevation gain. We added the short distance (1.2 miles round trip) to Long Lake, well worth it as the lake is serene and there is a more epic view of the mountains. Waldrop trail is not too muddy, and there no snow. Just a little patch to cross if you choose to go to Long Lake, but it’s only a few feet wide!

hiking
6 months ago

the road to the trail head is closed, fyi. I will hike this on a later date. sign says closed Monday- Thursday

6 months ago

Went yesterday around 11 am with 2 dogs (1 1/2 year old Golden Retriever and 5 year old Collie mix). Not too crowded. Lots of wildflowers, running water, plenty of shade in most parts. Took us about 2 hours to get to the lake, and we took our time. About half way there, the trail opens up to a beautiful meadow with a Mountain View. Lake itself was gorgeous, saw some moose and the dogs cooled off in the lake (on leash). Younger dog needed a couple breaks on the way back. If you do this hike, bring snacks and plenty of water for yourself and dogs. We needed about 5L of water for the three of us.

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