Niwot Ridge Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
10.1 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
337 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The Niwot Ridge Trail is an enjoyable, family friendly hike through the Brainard Lake Recreational Area. This trail is an easy hike up the Niwot Ridge and delivers awe-inspiring views of Long Lake in the foreground of the craggy Indian Peaks.

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Route Description for Niwot Ridge Trail

The Niwot Ridge Trail is a perfectly relaxed half day hike in the Indian Peaks that passes along Long Lake and ridges Niwot Mountain. This trail is great for families or as a recovery hike after summiting a peak. This trail is well signposted but in the summer months brush overgrowth can make the trail hard to follow. Do your best to stay on the worn path and bring a GPS trail report if possible. Note that parking passes are required and can be purchased at the Brainard Lake Recreational Area Kiosk or online.

Begin your adventure at the Niwot Picnic area. From the picnic area, head west along the Niwot Cut Off Trail. This wooded path will guide you to an intersection. At this point, veer left on the Jean Lunning Trail. You will shortly arrive at another junction. Here, bear left on Niwot Ridge Trail. As you traverse this winding trail it will gain elevation as you ascend towards the ridge. Continue hiking the ridge as it ascends the timberline and becomes exposed. You will eventually come to another intersection at the top of the ridge. This is your turnaround point.

If you are feeling adventurous, turn left and head southeast along the trail to summit Niwot Mountain. If you’ve had enough and you’re tired out, turn around. To get back to the parking lot simply retrace your steps along the trail.

Getting to the Niwot Ridge Trail Trailhead

The Niwot Ridge Trail begins from the Niwot Picnic area off of the Brainard Lake Road. The Brainard Lake Recreational Area and the Brainard Lake Road close seasonally from late-October until mid-June.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Yes, permits required.

  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Niwot Ridge Trail Elevation Graph

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Niwot Ridge Trail Reviews

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