Blue Lake (Roosevelt National Forest)
|Trail Name||Blue Lake (Roosevelt National Forest)|
|Distance||5 Miles Round Trip|
|Elevation Gain||915 Feet|
|Low Point||10,414 Feet|
|High Point||11,312 Feet|
|Trip Reports||Blue Lake (Roosevelt National Forest)|
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Blue Lake is one of the best hikes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and because of that it is also one of the most popular. The lake fills a large rocky basin framed by Mt Toll (12,979 ft.), Mt Audubon (13,223 ft.), and Pauite Peak(13,088 ft.). The hike to Blue Lake is highlighted with a stop at Mitchell Lake, wildflower filled meadows and a pristine alpine landscape.
How to get there
From Colorado Highway 72 at Ward, turn west onto the Brainard Lake Road. In about 2.5 miles you will reach the Birdbraind lake Entrance station. See the Fees section below. Continue on Brainard Lake Road and follow the signs to the Mitchel Lake Trailhead. Google Map
This is a very popular hiking spot and the trailhead parking lot usually fills up by 9am. They may direct you to park at the Brainard Lake parking lot. You will then have an additional 1 mile hike each way to the Mitchel Lake Trailhead. The parking lot tends to clear out around 3pm, so I suggest arriving before 9am or after 3pm to avoid heavy crowds.
Route is a simple out and back. There is a short spur trail to Blue Lake which is visible from the main trail. Blue Lake is 2.5 Miles from the Mitchell Lakes Trailhead, although the trailhead sign labels Blue Lake 3 miles out.
Trail is very rocky. Expect to constantly be watching where you put your feet. The trail has lots of rocks sticking out of the ground.
Fees, Permits, etc.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid June through late October):
- Passenger Vehicles (per vehicle/3 days): $10
- Vans (per vehicle/1 day): $25
- Buses (per vehicle/1 day): $40
- Motorcycles (per cycle/3 days): $5
- Hiker/Biker/Walker (per person/3 days): $1
- Short-term Bicyclist: 30 minute free pass
- American Land & Leisure Season Pass (passenger vehicles): $55
- American Land & Leisure Season Pass (hiker/biker/walker): $20
Interagency Annual, Military, Senior or Access passes, Golden Age and Golden Access passes are accepted. No fee is charged when the seasonal gate is closed (winter season).
- 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; dispersed camping is prohibited. When open, camping is only allowed within Pawnee Campground (no camping is permitted in closed campgrounds).
- 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.
- Fishing and Hunting: Permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife
- Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301, Phone 303-541-2500, Fax 303-541-2515