Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in Colorado. The breathtaking views and the sense of accomplishing something gives you a feeling like none other. Not to mention the connection you feel to nature, it brings you to a total state of relaxation that we all need after a stressful work week. So……let’s fill up those Nalgenes and stomp on those hiking boots because I’ve got a great hike for you!
Talk about amazing! This is one of my favorite hikes. Its a round trip of 4.2 miles with a starting elevation of 10,515 and ending at 10,868, a +353 gain total. This is an easy to moderate trail that is also dog friendly. Brainard Lake Recreation area ($9.00 entry fee) is where you’ll find this trail, starting you off at the Long Lake trailhead. The hike begins at a treelined valley with the Shoshoni, Apache, and Navajo mountain peaks gleaming in the distance. But wait, it’s gets better!! As you travel along this path, you’ll pass an abundance of purple, bright pink, and yellow wildflowers. The path thins through the trees at times and opens up to views of rolling hills covered in white wildflowers, babbling brooks and beautiful waterfalls. Ahh!!! We’ve made it!
The slight breeze in your hair, the water rippling with the reflection of the gorgeous snow-capped mountains is an amazing sight to see. The sense of happiness and the appreciation you feel is unbelievable. This makes life worth living. To obtain a view of the Isabelle Glacier, hike to the Pawnee Pass Trail which splits north through treeline over the lake basin. Once we got to the Lake we carried on past the trail, climbing on huge rock formations to get a better view. This is not difficult and well worth the extra time. We set up a picnic lunch on top of the rocks and took in the breathtaking viewpoint. Cuddled up on a rock, soaking it all in. I keep saying to myself, holy crap…this is my home!!!
So when the weekend rolls around and you are looking for something to do, check out Isabelle Lake. I promise you will not be disappointed! Go out there and have some fun!!
Fun Fact: Isabelle Lake and Isabelle Glacier were named by Fred Fair, a Boulder County engineer who discovered the glacier in the 1900′s and named both after his wife.
Directions to Isabelle Lake
Long Lake trailhead is located within the Brainard Lake Recreation area off of CO 72 ( 12 miles north of Nederland, just north of the town of Ward). From highway 72, turn west on Brainard Lake Road. In 2.6 miles you’ll reach the pay station. Continue another 3.2 miles along a paved road to the Long Lake trailhead.
THIS IS A VERY POPULATED TRAIL AND PARKING IS LIMITED! GET THERE EARLY!