Isabelle Glacier Trail

HARD 57 reviews
#20 of 109 trails in

Isabelle Glacier Trail is a 10.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1430 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

Directions from Ward: Take Brainard Lake Road (CR #102) to the Long Lake Trailhead.

hiking
2 months ago

Such a wonderful experience even with the lake mostly drained. Don't rush the trail; take the time to look around. Didn't quite make it to the glacier because of incoming weather.

3 months ago

This is one of my favorite trails in Colorado! It's absolutely stunning!! This Trail has so much to offer. You walk by several open fields of flowers, through Forest, past several beautiful waterfalls, finally up to Isabel Lake. I highly suggest continuing the trail along the lake and going up to the glacier. I did this in about 5 hours with multiple breaks and photo opportunities. I went on a Friday morning and the trail was not very crowded and then hiked again on a Sunday which was definitely more crowded but still not overwhelming. There is a $11 fee to get into the forest but it's well worth it. Highly highly recommend!!

3 months ago

Great trail! Beautiful views!

hiking
4 months ago

First off, to the lake (3 miles from trailhead). Definitely not a 'hard' hike. Little to no elevation gain and the trail is very well maintained. Breathtaking.

The glacier is a different story. I would rate it more moderate than difficult but trail conditions could make it a hard. Tons of scrambling, poor footing, stream crossings, and mud- all of which make for a super fun hike. I had two dogs with me, both of which are very agile and used to climbing, and we all lost our footings. The gaps in boulders can be pretty scary for little legs so I wouldn't classify this part very dog friendly. If you get up to the glacier pond early enough, keep climbing to get to the upper glacier! Beautiful views and you can see everything in the little valley.

Also, as usual AllTrails is just a little off in terms of distance. I clocked my hike in at 11.5 miles but we also took some detours!

hiking
4 months ago

Excellent trail! Lots of water crossings and rock scrambles but the views are incredible. Got the last parking spot at 6:20am so go early. $11 or NP pass to enter.

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome hike! We got lucky with the weather.
Strenuous after the lake. Very easy upto the lake. After that get prepared for rock hopping over several boulder fields, navigating thru snowfields, crossings over waterfall & stream, slogging thru narrow barely perceptible trail through the willows with very wet marshy trail until the final steep switchbacks at the end. Trail is hard to find. I was with Colorado Mtn Club where the leader knew the trail. I would have been lost alone for sure. So be aware and have good navigation skills because the trail is hard to find over boulder fields, snowfields and marshes.

Reward is awesome views throughout and at the end of Navajo and Apache Peaks (see attached pics). Beautiful wildflowers, saw Kings crown, Elephant head flowers, among others. Although wildflowers were not as abundant as say Diamond Lake. Lotsa marmots and pikas. Some cheeky marmots, as usual, approaching us for handouts when we stopped for snacks. Of course, NEVER feed the wildlife however cute they might look.

Hurried back down to avoid storm which loomed 1/2 way back. Made it to the TH just in time as it started raining. Our pace on this hike ended up much slower than usual because of trail conditions. Although, as we were going to the Glacier we met a 20 something girl who told us she had just climbed Apache peak! Wimpy us! I was content to look at Apache Peak from below at the Glacier. Haha!

hiking
5 months ago

Unreal hike, absolutely breathtaking. The last two miles are heavy on the snow fields and a few scree fields. We went in the afternoon and didn't quite make it the whole way due to inclement weather and lack of preparation but almost did! If you plan on doing the whole thing, especially in the afternoon, pack: waterproof gear, trekking poles, layers, and plenty of water. Lost the trail a few times on the way back in between the glacier and the lake, pay attention to where you are because the trails are deceptive. Regardless, this trail comes highly recommended.

6 months ago

Hiked in October. I was one of two people. Gorgeous and a perfect day hike since I live 30 miles away.

hiking
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wonderful hike with great views. We got there at 8:30 and Long Lake parking lot was full, so we went down and parked in the small Niwot lot on the SW side of Branaird lake. It adds probably 1 mile on to the hike from Long Lake parking lot, but still probably knocks 3/4 mile off of the day-use lot.

If you understandably thought it couldn't get more beautiful than what you were looking at at the bottom in front of Branaird Lake, then enjoy knowing that it does. The hike to Lake Isabelle is about 3.5 miles, but pretty easy. That would be a great hike in itself and Lake Isabelle is gorgeous.

From there you can make a decision because the last 1.5 miles up to the glacier is by far the hardest part of the hike. It has just as much elevation gain as the first 3.5 miles, and it gets rocky. It can be hard to follow the trail, especially with the snow in October. It essentially doubled the time of our hike. The views are great though, so if you have the time and the energy, definitely continue.

hiking
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hands down my favorite hike to date, the views were breathtaking, the lakes were gorgeous and the last bit was quite fun , the trail disappeared over a few boulder fileds but was never hard to find again. The glacier was very referring to reach. I would suggest getting there early to get decent parking and to beat any afternoon storms.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

This trail begins off of the Pawnee Pass Trail at Lake Isabelle. It marks the start of a series of steep switchbacks that bring you up to Isabelle glacier within a steep walled basin which holds frozen glacial runoff. I was here in September and much of the frozen runoff was only a thin layer of ice. The glacier itself was sliding into the basin and still had very white snow. It made for a beautiful hike and perfect place to relax and take pictures. This trail is steep (1500 feet in 2 miles) and completely exposed as its above tree line. However the reward at the end is well worth the effort and the stunning scenery along the way is enjoyable with each step. I highly recommend this trail. You might even see a marmot or two :)

Friday, September 23, 2016

We were very happy with this trail! We had no problem parking at 1pm on a Thursday, and brought a big group. Easy hike with a bit of a more moderate incline over rocks in the last quarter mile. The views get better and better the farther in you are. Breathtaking and euphoric. Little downward stream midway through the hike that's gorgeous to take photos near. Lake was mostly drained because it's September (I believe they drain it at the end of august every year to provide water to the nearby towns), and it was still incredibly beautiful. Gorgeous time of year to come (Sept 22- first day of fall!)

Monday, July 18, 2016

To get to the Glacier you first have to hike to the lake so about 9 miles round trip unless you have to park down at lake Brainard then it is 11 miles.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Not hikable in late May early June, but the lake is beautiful!

Monday, September 21, 2015

We hiked in yesterday to the ridge right before the glacier but an older dog was thinking that was far enough! Cold, brisk wind on the morning but it turned into a beautiful 70 degree day. Great hike and one of my favorites.

hiking
Thursday, August 27, 2015

The length of the hike is incorrect if you want to reach the glacier; that is another couple of miles. Totally worth the effort and a trail that has nearly everything for the hiker - scenery, water features, wildlife, etc.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Great hike, but a very long hike to the glacier. This hike had the best views I've seen hiking this summer.

hiking
Saturday, August 15, 2015

The overview is incorrect. It's 2 miles to Isabelle Lake. The glacier is about an additional 2.5 miles. I did this hike yesterday and the lake is now drained. If you're going on to the glacier this shouldn't deter you as there is another lake further up. Also, the wildflowers are insane this year, thick all along the trail.
Passing waterfalls, a moose, several marmot, this is a photographer's dream trail. The push up to the glacier is fairly strenuous but well worth it. The closest and biggest glacier view I've seen in this state. Just watch for the cairns as the trek through the boulder fields can be a bit tricky. There was only one other person on the trek up to the glacier and if you know Brainard you'll know this was a treat.

hiking
Saturday, August 01, 2015

Beautiful views. Lots of shade. Gets a bit rocky towards the end but the view is sensational.

geocaching
Friday, June 26, 2015

Beautiful day in early October. Saw one other person. Mostly just my dog and me. Gorgeous views of 3 lakes and a glacier. Wear waterproof boots and gators. The trails disappears near the final lake. Just go to Isabel lake and hop rocks to the other side and look for the trail again on your right. It climbs and takes you to a couple gorgeous steps.

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