Lake Isabelle Trail hike

Indian Peaks
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Lake Isabelle Trail hike

Distance: 9.9mi
Elevation: 1,161ft
Time: 4-6h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.3 Overall Rating
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This hike needs to be done in the morning because being one of the best trails in the Indian Peaks means a busy parking lot; however, this beautiful alpine lake with views of the Isabelle Glacier is worth the trouble.

Lake Isabelle Trail hike Map

Getting there

Drive through the town of Ward to the end of Lefthand Canyon Dr. Turn right on CO-72 then quickly turn left onto Brainard Lake Rd. go through pay gate, and head to Long Lake Trailhead.

I’ve done this 10 people have done this
I want to do this 22 want to do this route


When to do

Early June to Late September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at Pawnee Campground


Yes, primitive pit toilets

Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back

Lake Isabelle Trail
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Lake Isabelle Trail hike

From the trailhead, the trail gradually ascends through the forest until reaching the tip of Long Lake. At Long Lake the views open up and you should be able to see Isabelle Glacier and the surrounding Indian Peaks. Stay on the North side of the lake as you hike parallel to the shore.

You will understand why it is called Long Lake as you continue to hike along the shore further back into the mountains. Past Long Lake, the trail gains elevation, and slowly ascends above the tree line. A few small switchbacks take you to the amazing Lake Isabelle with views of the surrounding mountains. You can appreciate this for a moment before the final ascent.

You’ll take some exciting switchbacks up and up until you find a pool that is part of the South Saint Vrain Creek. From here you can look up to Navajo Peak (13409ft). It’s the prominent mountain in the middle of the mountain cirque. When you’ve had your fill of great mountain views you can head back down the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • National Park Annual Pass is accepted at the gate, otherwise Brainard Lake Recreation Area is Cash Only ($11 per Passenger Vehicle).

  • Many people stop at Lake Isabelle and this makes an easier and wonderful day trip for people who want a less strenuous hike.

  • Explore this area in early spring when there is still snow on the ground. Be aware of avalanche conditions. The main gates will be closed, but you can park at a large parking lot at the main entrance and hike in for free. During this time there will be less people on the trails and it’s ideal for snowshoeing. You can hike in following the main road, past Brainard Lake, until you reach the trailhead for Lake Isabelle. This will add about 4mi to the overall trip, but this area is incredible with snow on the ground. Snowshoes can be rented in the Town of Nederland at Happy Trails Café.

  • This trail is exposed to the elements, so be prepared for high winds, sun exposure and storms in the afternoon and evenings.


BlueMountains 4 months ago

Perhaps next time. I could not find any parking space last time I tried coming here. Decided to do a less popular hike. Still bugs me.

Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Wyatt Thomas 5 months ago

Lake Isabelle is a busy hike for good reason, glad I get up early anyways and avoid the crowds.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Terrynosaurus 5 months ago

Lake Isabelle trail was quite busy. But the plan was to get in -> take photos -> and out. It's a bit long only for taking photos but the views were amazing.

9.0 Overall Rating
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5h 00m Time Taken
Ramiro G. 5 months ago

My favourite trail in the whole park. We were lucky enough to get the parking spot and had a great day

10.0 Overall Rating
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5h 00m Time Taken
SJ 5 months ago

Lake Isabelle Trail is definitely worth getting up early for!

9.0 Overall Rating
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