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Pawnee Pass Trail is a 8.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, fly fishing, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 8.9 mi Elevation gain 2,103 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Snowshoeing

Forest

Lake

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

Fee

Description
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Getting There

Although this trail is almost entirely in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (Roosevelt National Forest), it starts in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. There is a $12 fee (cash only) to enter this area, though "America the Beautiful" annual park passes are accepted. Note that parking lots can fill on busy weekends. From mid-October to mid-June, the road into Brainard Lake Recreation Area is closed. Visitors may hike at the Gateway Trailhead, at the closed gate. However, this will add 5 miles round-trip to this hike. Parking at the Gateway Trailhead does not require a fee, as you are parking outside of the recreation area. This hike starts at the Long Lake Trailhead. The first mile and a half rises gently in the forest on the north side of Long Lake. Once past the junction with the Jean Lunning trail, the trail rises more steeply, finally using switchbacks to rise up to Lake Isabelle just past a stream crossing. From the trail junction near the lake, the trail rises on switchbacks past stream side flower gardens to treeline. Beyond there, more switchbacks go up a ridge to the west to reach alpine tundra on a broad flat with views back to the lakes below. The last switchbacks then go up a south-facing slope to the pass.

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (184)
Photos (1006)
Recordings (100)
Completed (397)
Sam Walker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
Hiking

Two small and one big snowfield to cross, easily doable without spikes but they got a bit dicey once the sun warmed them up a bit on our way back. Lots of people at Lake Isabelle on the way back, but past the split not too bad. Beautiful hike, bring a windbreaker for the top of the pass.

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David Andes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 09 2020
Hiking

Got there at 5:30AM and had the trail to myself for a while. A snow field blocks the top of the trail but it is easy to navigate around if you don’t want to risk the slippery steep snow. Saw an elk and two moose. Early morning is the best time to go. Scenery is breathtaking.

Haley Allen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 08 2020
HikingBugsMuddyNo shadeSnow
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Sarah S.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingBugsMuddyScrambleSnow

Great trail. Got to the pay booth at 6am. No folks in line - but about 10 cars at the Long Lake Trailhead. Didn't see anyone on the hike up to Lake Isabelle. Spent 30 minutes at the lake, alone! Only 2 folks after that going up on Pawnee. Two snow fields. I used spikes, but you wouldn't need to. Icy in the am, total slush by 10am. I stopped at the last snow field. just before the ridge. You can boulder across under the field, and then straight up and over the pass. A couple was going that route to thru hike to Monarch Lake. Doable, but takes time. I turned around here. No shade on the bolder field, but gorgeous views. Lots of folks on the way down around 10am. About 60% masked. Left Brainard at 11:30p - 25 cars in line waiting at the pay booth to get in. Yikes! Early is best if you can swing it. Definitely mosquitos at the lake, and on the hike when you stop, but not clouds.

Ali Dahl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingMuddy
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Dani Cavi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 19 2020
Hiking

Climbed up to Pawnee on 6/14. Beautiful hike but no easy task. Road is still closed so be prepared for a 17 mile roundtrip push. The Pawnee Pass trail soon disappears after you get to the fork and see the big boulder that splits the trail into Lake Isabel and Pawnee Pass, so highly recommended to only go forward if you have experience finding your own way up the mountain, have micro spikes, and have experience recognizing hazardous snow conditions as the thick ice sheets are quickly melting from underneath due to the summer heat.

Jose Ledesma
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat May 30 2020

road is close will add 6 miles to your trip if you decide to do it. and still plenty of snow. we couldn't even get started on the trail need snow shoes

Bryan Prouty
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 12 2019
Hiking

A difficult hike, but worth it.

Jeremy Noller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Oct 08 2019
HikingNo shade
Andrew Parsons
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Sep 29 2019
Hiking

What a gem! Got here at 8 and trail head parking was full so an extra mile walk but no worries! Gradual uphill to the pass. Very windy once out of tree line ! Was 10 miles total. Love all the mountain lake views ! Dog friendly

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Ryan Mease
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Sep 29 2019
HikingRockySnow

The last half of the trail out to Pawnee Pass is much more solitary than the hike from Long Lake to Lake Isabelle. The trail up the ridge was considerably more windy and rocky in spots than on the pass itself. However, unlike the trail up the ridge there was about a half inch to an inch of powdery snow. Just enough to make the views that much better! Overall a clear trail to follow, a few cascades on the first half of the trail, and great views from about 12K feet! If you’re able continue your hike up to Pawnee Peak!

Andrew Coleman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Sep 15 2019
Hiking

Amazing hike! One of my favorites so far. The user below summed it up pretty well, but I didn't experience any fog or wind. Get there early if you want peace and solitude for at least the first half of your hike.

Lauren Harned
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Sep 08 2019

Wildflowers, cascades, views, lakes.. and wind. Very diverse and a spectacularly beautiful area. The last 1.5 miles being completely exposed on rocky terrain in high winds is tedious and miserable, but I'm glad I did it. A lot of people who went up early saw no views at the pass because of clouds/fog. I got lucky and went up as it was clearing, but the winds were so high - literally making me lose my balance - so I only stayed up for maybe 5 minutes before I couldn't stand it any longer. So, I would not recommend hiking all the way to the top of the pass if there are clouds/fog, just stop once you hit the exposed area - it's amazing all on it's own. I'll definitely be back to do other trails in the area!

Breeana Crawford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Sep 01 2019
HikingRockyWashed out

The views on this hike were amazing. The hike doesn’t get tough until you pass Lake Isabelle where you begin the climb for Pawnee Pass. Highly recommend hiking to the summit of Pawnee Peak if you can! Make sure you have the right gear as the final push is very loose and rocky. I did this hike on Labor Day weekend and arrived at 7:30, long lake trailhead was full so we had to park in the Lake Brainard lot adding an extra mile overall.

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Kara Belarmino
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Aug 30 2019
Hiking

This hike was incredibly beautiful! It’s my new favorite now. I got there at 7.30 AM on a Thursday and there was ample parking left. When I got out at 4 (I really took my time), there were probably only 5 cars in the lot. This might not be the case over the weekend, though. Right when the trail bifurcates at Isabelle Glacier/Pawnee pass, I walked over to Isabelle lake to take pictures (It was stunning!) and walked back over to the bifurcation to officially start going up Pawnee Pass. The whole way up was gorgeous - all the streams, flowers and views of the lakes were beautiful! it was hot and cold and had to keep putting on and taking off layers. The top of Pawnee Pass was incredibly windy! I felt like I had to fight through a couple big gusts of wind. I ended up going up Pawnee Peak as well, which was very rocky - but that was also a beautiful view plus I had the peak to myself for a good, long while! No wind up Pawnee Peak, too. Lastly, to Bob and Dwight, the two incredibly kind gentlemen I met at Isabelle Lake - if you guys are finding this, I really appreciated the list of hikes and directions you guys left on my windshield wiper! It was such a sweet surprise when I got back to my car! Thank you!

Jenny Zichterman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Aug 30 2019
Hiking

What a great hike! I went up to Pawnee Pass (where the wind was crazy and the temp was probably 38 degrees!) and then back down to Lake Isabelle to the far end near the waterfalls. I arrived at 7:30am on Friday morning and easily got a parking spot at Long Lake TH. Great hike all around and not too crowded.

Sam Mader
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Aug 26 2019
Hiking

Beautiful trail. Very busy later in the day. Be ready to take on the wind at the top

Mark K.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Aug 24 2019
HikingBugsNo shade
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James McDermott
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Aug 21 2019
HikingRocky

great hike! very beautiful! easy parking at 7am. it got busy on our way back . some mosquitoes, nothing crazy. only one older gentleman yelled at us lol , otherwise great crowds . lots of people at around noon.

Carl Wold
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Aug 18 2019
Hiking

Beautiful area. Difficult hike for me, but I'm out of shape. Wind was out of control. I think I I sae someone else say person are pretty rude here, which I can confirm.

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Kirby Ann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Aug 17 2019
Hiking

If I could keep this place a secret, I would! This hike was great and the view from the top is one of my favorites to date. Got to the rec area just before 6am, it wasn't crazy, but people were beginning to trickle in. The hike was fairly mellow, you start to put in some work around 11,500'... we hit the first wind tunnel during our walk through the meadow, so that slows you down if you get caught in that. There's a trail to the top of the peak, which a lot of people were missing. But, got the peak to ourselves for a good while. Not a busy day on the trail for the Saturday I hiked up it. I had a great experience with the few other people on the trail.. I wouldn't let the previous comments about rude people deter you from hiking up!

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