Waldrup Trail, St. Vrain Trail, and Mitchell Trail, Little Raven Trail to Brainard Lake

EASY 150 reviews

Waldrup Trail, St. Vrain Trail, and Mitchell Trail, Little Raven Trail to Brainard Lake is a 6.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers 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.

DISTANCE
6.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
557 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

The road leading to the trailhead is closed until June 29th, 2018. No fee is charged when the seasonal gate is closed (winter season). Brainard Lake Recreation Area CASH OR CHECK ONLY fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid June through late October): Passenger Vehicles & RVs (per vehicle/3 days): $11 Vans (per vehicle/1 day): $27 Buses (per vehicle/1 day): $44 Motorcycles (per cycle/3 days): $6 Hiker/Biker/Walker (per person/3 days): $1 Short-term Bicyclist: 30 minute free pass American Land & Leisure Season Pass (passenger vehicles): $60 American Land & Leisure Season Pass (hiker/biker/walker): $22 Prohibited: Pack animals (horses/llamas); recreational shooting (except for legal hunting) and being on trails posted as closed. Brainard Lake Recreation Area Summer Season (May 1 - Nov 14): Dogs must be on a hand-held leash at all times; when open, developed camping is only allowed at Pawnee Campground (no camping in closed campgrounds); dispersed camping is only allowed north of the South St Vrain Creek. Brainard Lake Recreation Area Winter Season (Nov 15 - Apr 30): Motorized vehicles are prohibited; dogs allowed only on the Brainard Lake and Lefthand Park Reservoir Roads; camping is prohibited within 1/4 mile of developed recreation sites except Red Rock Lake; skis only on Little Raven and CMC Ski Trail. Fishing and Hunting: Permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

1 month ago

Per some recent questions regarding access to Brainard Lake, please see the link below. Yes, the road is now open. Work was completed on 6/29/18...

https://www.bouldercounty.org/transportation/plans-and-projects/brainard-road/

hiking
1 month ago

Does anybody know if the road is open here yet?

hiking
2 months ago

Hi, I work for FHWA which is doing oversight on the construction. It should be open again at the beginning of July.

3 months ago

the road was closed due to construction, so we couldn't even get to the winter parking lot. anyone know when it will be open again?

Road closed through late June due to construction. Trail is four miles up.

hiking
5 months ago

This is a really nice, relaxed hike. We did it with microspikes on 3/4/2018. Most people had snowshoes, but they weren't needed if you stayed on the packed trail.

snowshoeing
6 months ago

We loved this ~5 mile roundtrip snowshoe trail to Lake Brainard from the Brainard Gateway Trailhead parking area. The wind across the lake was brutal, but we were sheltered on the trail. There were areas of deep powdery snow, but it was mostly hard-packed. And if the footprints weren't easy enough to follow, the trail is well marked with blue diamonds and signs every fifty feet or so. We saw dozens of snowshoers and cross country skiers out on a cold Saturday.

7 months ago

Drove up to find the road and trail closed :(

8 months ago

I’ve lived/worked at Brainard Lake Recreation Area for the last 4 years. There is no trail formally designated as Brainard Lake Loop. It is a combination of the Waldrup Trail, St. Vrain Trail, and Mitchell Trail, then around the west end of Brainard Lake on the road where you pick up the Little Raven Trail and follow it back down to Lefthand Reservoir Road. You then follow the road back toward the Fee Booth and the Gateway Parking lot. That’s the “loop.” There are no signs that designate a “Brainard Lake Loop.”

snowshoeing
8 months ago

plenty of snow on the trail for snowshoes. It was windy and lightly snowing at times. you do have to park at the visitor center which adds 2 miles I think. wasn't busy at all very peaceful.

snowshoeing
8 months ago

I snowshoed parts of the trail on Saturday - Sourdough to St Vrain to Waldrop, snowshoes were definitely needed (except on the road) as it snowed the night before. The trails are covered in snow but the wind caused snowdrifts in parts and other parts you can scrape rocks with shoes. It was fun and there are some great views.

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike, the parking lot of Brainard Lake is closed so we walked 2 miles up the road to the lake. Didn’t need yak traks or anything just hiking boots were fine. It was very windy, deep snow in some spots. Great views! Not very many people either for a Sunday.

hiking
9 months ago

MUST READ!! Heads up Everyone that might be just as informed as I wasn’t, the gate that is open in the warmer months is closed and locked now. So you park at the first visitors center which adds a 2 mile trek to the beginning of the actual hike; pretty but, just know it’s an added 2 miles both ways. Also of note, bring any and all cold weather gear that’ll also get you out of the cold gusty winds. At the end of the 2 Mile “welcome-Trek”, gusty winds greet you as soon as you can see Brainard Lake. This is where we turned around after a few minutes of “how bad does this suck right now/the wind will stop soon”
I would maybe bring a sled or something to make the trek back a bit more fun. I know it’s overall a beautiful Hike, I’ve done it summer/Fall but, just wasn’t properly equipped for a cold&Windy walk-about

9 months ago

Not a real trail name, this is several trails combined to make a loop. Conditions right now are snowy/icy/muddy

10 months ago

Beautiful, but the snow shoe trail is currently a bit marshy. Wait until it gets colder as it says 'winter only'

hiking
10 months ago

Too early for snow shoeing and too late for just hiking. Part of the hike was just marsh land and really wet. Brainard Lake itself was gorgeous. Would love to try again once there’s more snow for snow shoeing!

10 months ago

Good, easy hike through the forest. This hikes let's you avoid waiting to get into the Indian Peaks Wilderness area and avoid having to pay $11. It is a great hike but it is a bummer when you feel like you earned your views and then everyone at the lake (the final spot of the hike before turning back) just drove in and parked.

11 months ago

Beautiful easy trail up to the lake! Once you cross the road to other side it's a disaster. The trails included in the second half of the loop are winter only trails! Swampy, unmarked in many places and not passable in many spots! Should not be used as a summer loop. Luckily it's close to road and GPS worked so turned out ok. Do first half to Lake & turn around or follow other well marked trails. Beautiful park!

hiking
11 months ago

beautiful views easy hiking

hiking
11 months ago

We got a later start than expected, we arrived around 10:30am and there was a line out past the Gateway Trailhead. We parked along the side of the road, in a safe designated (don't be a jerk there were plenty of those who parked on the road) pull off and walked to the beginning of the Sourdough Trailhead. We had two pups with us, we took the Waldrop trail to the South St. Vrain trailhead to Brainard Lake. We hung out on the beach with the dogs and then walked back alongside the road.

We had intended to do the Mitchell Lakes, but this got us hiking rather than sitting in line in our car for an hour. Get there early or later and you should be alright. All in all, it was a fun hike and perfect weather. Beautiful views from streams to the lake and the mountains behind.

backpacking
11 months ago

beautiful spot to hike. Go on week day if you can. great mountain and lake views. hiked on a Monday very little traffic.

hiking
11 months ago

DO NOT DO THIS AS A LOOP! Do the right half of the loop only. Pretty lake, pretty views on the right side of the trail. The left side of the trail for anything other than maybe snowshoeing is crap. The left side is poorly marked and swampy even in August. The trail heads are poorly marked. The signs on the right side are a bit confusing, but not too bad. The left side is a mess. The left side has some signs/markers, but is not properly maintained for hiking. The left might be ok for snowshoeing, but not for normal hiking. Having a GPS on the left helped to not get lost when any trace of the trail disappeared. AllTrails really should not have this listed as a loop except MAYBE for snowshoeing, but the right side is decent. There are some pretty views, but a disappointing hike due to the poorly marked and maintained left side of the loop.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Easy hike for any skill level.

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

The snowshoe trail was poorly marked. Lost it twice when markers and trail disappeared.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Long but pretty. Excellent views, nice and peaceful. Took just under 4 hours to do the trail and get back to the car. Pack snacks and lots of water, although there is potable water at the summit (free)

hiking
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I loved this trail! It was perfect for my dog and I, especially to get out of the heat in Denver! We went at 8am and it was only about 65 degrees at the lake, which was amazing. I parked my car near Brainard lake and then walked the loop around long lake instead. The long lake trail was well groomed and marked! In total, we walked about 4.5 miles.

hiking
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

9 year-old and 3 year-old border collies loved this place. Scenery was beautiful. Busy parking lot, but everyone was pretty spread out after that. Nice people though that say hello in passing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In the photos I added the SUMMER trail map. Honestly, not a good map. Not fantastic trails around Brainard. BUT there is a FABULOUS LOOP called Jean Lunning Trail (even though it's a loop) and loops around Long Lake. You can extend that hike and go to Lake Isabelle if you are so athletically inclined. The Jean Lunning trail is easy but has some incline, good for beginners but take your time and enjoy the scenery!

hiking
Monday, July 03, 2017

The trail map provided on this site uses winter only trails. When we got there (summer) we were disappointed to find out that the map here doesn't show the trails we can use in the summer. Because of this, we didn't get to the lake. We took the trail above Waldrop Trail (South St Vran). The hike was still pretty but not what I was looking forward to. If you're going to do the trail I highly suggest finding map that shows what time of year each trail is usable.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The lake is incredible. We took the Waldrop trail out to the lake which was a nice easy, well-marked trail. We decided to return via the Snowshoe Trail which is the trail many other users have recorded on this app. Snowshoe trail starts out nice but quickly turns into a swampy trek through dense woods with areas not clearly marked. Still a beautiful trail, but your feet will be soaked. Note: this was 4th of July, 2017.

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