Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike
The Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike is a perfect excursion for adventurers who appreciate the ambiance of a serene lake and babbling brook but crave the excitement of scrambling and going off the beaten path. This trail is a perfect balance between tranquil and exhilarating. Starting the trek through pine woodlands, the trail progresses through wildflower meadows, past waterfalls and lakes, over rocky ridges and exposes 360° panoramic views of the Indian Peaks and the Continental Divide.
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Route Description for Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike
Located in one of the most popular areas in Indian Peak Wilderness, the Blue Lake and Little Blue Trail is a popular hike for adventurers in the Brainard Lake Recreational Area! This trail can be enjoyed year-round, but parking in the Brainard Lake Recreational Area is closed from mid-October through June. Those who visit when the area is closed will have to park outside of the Gateway, adding a few extra kilometers onto your excursion. In the summer, you can park directly at the trailhead, but parking is limited so make sure to reserve your pass online or arrive early. Easily accessible and seemingly chill, this hike can be deceiving. The trail is relatively family-friendly for the first half of the hike, but the rearmost segment before ascending to Little Blue Lake is very rocky and requires hikers to scramble over the ridges. Ensure you are wearing appropriate footwear and be vigilant of loose rocks if you attempt this section.
From lush pine forests to waterfalls, snow dusted mountains to alpine lakes, this trail has it all. The Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike guides adventurers past scenic lakes and ponds as they ascend into the valley towards Blue Lake. Blue Lake is undoubtedly the most picturesque portion of the hike, so be sure to stop and snap some photos! The ultimate destination of Little Blue Lake compensates for the effort it requires to scale the final ridges. Those who conquer the scramble are rewarded with a secluded mountain top lake that offers panoramic views of surrounding granite peaks and valleys below. When visiting the Brainard Lake Recreational Area, this hike is a must-do.
To begin this hike, start at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead and head northwest on the Mitchell Lake Trail. A few kilometres in, hikers will encounter a sturdy log bridge over Mitchell Creek just before Mitchell Lake. This lake delivers great views of the Continental Divide. Continue west past Mitchell Lake crossing yet another log bridge before the trail begins its gradual incline towards Blue Lake. Follow along the rocky trail as it summits the tree line and becomes increasingly exposed—be sure to wear layers as it can get quite windy!
Blue Lake is the next milestone on this hike, it is also a great turnaround point for families or those who do not wish to scale the upcoming ridges to Little Blue Lake! This area of the excursion is the most highly trafficked. As hikers ascend towards Blue Lake panoramic views of Mount Toll and Pawnee Peak become visible with the alpine Blue Lake and waterfall in the foreground. This is a great resting spot to recharge before heading back out on the trail!
After indulging in the breath-taking views at Blue Lake veer left onto Little Blue Lake Route. This is the final segment of your excursion. At this point, the terrain becomes irregular and steep, so make sure you’re up for the challenge. Loose rocks and boulders make up the remainder of the hike up to Little Blue Lake. Take it slow and exercise caution when scrambling over these ridges. Once past the rockfalls, maintain northwest along the Little Blue Lake Route, climb over a rocky ledge, and behold Little Blue Lake! This lake is a perfect spot to kick off your shoes and soak your tired feet after completing the first lag of the trek.
Retrace your steps to get back to the carpark but be careful when descending the rocky ridges.
There is no disputing where this lake got its name! Blue Lake is crystal clear and a vibrant shade of blue, but don’t be fooled, the inviting hue does not mean it is warm! This alpine lake is super cold which is why it is able to maintain its spectacular blue colour! Generally, alpine lakes are clearer than lakes at lower elevations due to the cold water. The cold environment decreases the speed and amount of algae produced, who knew?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dogs allowed on the Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike?
Yes, dogs are permitted on the Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Trail but must be kept on leash.
Is Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike family friendly?
Yes, older children should be able to complete this trail. If you have young kids, consider hiking to Blue Lake and turning around there to avoid the difficult terrain.
Insider Hints for Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike
- In the shadows of the Continental Divide, this trail is subject to extreme winds. Check the weather forecast before heading out and plan accordingly. Layers are a must!
- If you cannot find parking in the Mitchell’s Lake Carpark, try the Brainard Park Recreational Area Parking, though it will add on a few extra kilometers to your hike!
Getting to the Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike Trailhead
The trailhead for the Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike is located within the Brainard Lake Recreational Area. Hikers must purchase a day pass to access the trail and carpark—these can be purchased online or onsite and typically cost around $14USD. Park at the Mitchell Lake Carpark and Trailhead, here you will also find bathroom facilities. Note that the Brainard Lake Recreational Area and the Brainard Lake Road close in late-October until mid-June. Visitors will have to park outside the Gateway and hike in, adding to their excursion.
Blue Lake and Little Blue Lake Hike Elevation Graph
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