Brainard Lake Recreational Area - Snowshoeing

February, 17, 2019 · Indian Peaks Wilderness

The Brainard Lake Recreational Area is a gateway into the Indian Peaks Wilderness and during the winter offers a full day of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities for all ages. Since this area is closed to traffic in the winter months the snow-covered roads become deep snow trails to spend hours on. Since it is close to Boulder it's a quick and easy drive to get there.

However, it can be windy there as the wind can barrel down off The Indian Peaks and produce whiteout conditions. So be prepared for some bone-chilling wind from time to time. For me, the morning started out with near-whiteout conditions at the trailhead, but that quickly gave way to overcast skies and a light snow.

In the middle of the day the clouds broke, and a mix of light puffy clouds and blue sky made for a lot of fun on the various winter trails in this area. Towards the end of the day the clouds and wind returned. So, all in all a really nice day in The Brainard Lake Recreational Area. Their winter map doesn't look like much but it's deceptive, there is plenty to do all day there. Here is a link to the Brainard Lake Recreational Area Winter Map.

The original plan was to try and snowshoe to Blue Lake, but nobody had broken trail to Mitchell Lake, and I wasn't up for that amount of trail-blazing, so I turned back and towards Long Lake. That's when they sky cleared and the always impressive Indian Peaks Range became visible and the snow-capped mountains set against the blue sky were very dramatic. When it's clear the iconic tilted cone-shaped Navajo Peak gives this range its distinctive character.

If you get there early the wind from the previous night will have blown over the snowshoe and ski tracks from the previous day and will give you a sense that you're the first on the trail - and depending on where you are going that could be true. For me, this turned out to be 8.6 miles of snowshoeing, and there was plenty more to see and do. Well worth returning to again this winter.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness9
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness1
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January3
February2
March2
April3
May5
June16
July26
August26
September27
October5
November4
December3

SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

2013 is the year this all started. The hike to Pitkin Lake started it all. Although it was a difficult trail, I was hooked immediately. However, I didn't have the right gear and the seasons were changing quickly. So, even though this season only brought two hikes, I new this was ...