Darby's Top Reasons to Love this Hike:
1. Beautiful creeks, ponds, wildflowers, lakes, lots of flora and natural beauty. Plenty of water to keep the surrounding valleys lush with wildflowers and green meadows.
2. This trail is moderately challenging: if you use poles to hike, break them out for this trail! I have 4 legs so I can navigate pretty good, but the terrain is rocky at 11,000 + feet. Note from Darby's mom: wear hiking boots with good traction because ankles can twist really easy.
3. Cooler temperatures because the start is at about 10,500' and you gain about 800 feet in elevation before you reach Blue Lake and your view of Little Pawnee Peak (12,466'), Mt Toll (12,979'), Paiute Peak (13,088'), and Mt Audubon (13,223'). You can continue on a strenuous and technical trail up to these peaks. [This hike is great summer hike; because of the cooler temps, the snow doesn't melt until late spring, early summer.]
4. Nearby trails: Long Lake to Lake Isabel, 5 mile hike is just up the road on Brainard Lake. Camping around Brainard during the summer and snowshoeing available in the wintertime.
5. Wildlife: you can see birds, moose, elk, marmots and other critters.
County: Indian Peaks Wilderness
Round Trip Length: 6+ miles to Blue Lake and back
Start and End Elevation:10,500' - 11,300'
Elevation Change: +830' net elevation gain (+900' total round trip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate to strenuous, use boots and poles if you have them
Pet Regulations: Dogs Allowed On Leash only
Weather: Hiking in the summer time is ideal because of the late snow melt (July)
Picnic Tables: Yes, around the Brainard Lake
Restroom : Yes, in the Mitchell Lake parking Lot
Directions: From Boulder: Drive west on Canyon Blvd to Nederland (20 miles). Follow the signs toward Estes Park on the Peak to Peak Hwy (72). Go about 12 miles to the town of Ward, the Brainard Lake Entrance is just North on the Left, go to the State Park Entrance. Fee is $9.00 . Go to the Mitchell Lake Parking lot and grab a site. You may have to get here early or end up parking on the road near by.