Snowshoe Trails in Indian Peaks Wilderness

Region in Colorado, United States

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado, and it looks simply stunning after a thick fall of snow. Snowshoeing in this gorgeous part of the United States is a pure delight, with picturesque trails leading through beautiful valleys and forests, and dramatic peaks rising high into the sky. Don your snowshoes and enter a magical, silent world, for a winter hiking experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

Snowshoeing is one of the most popular winter activities in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and you’ll find a whole array of fantastic trails in some truly spectacular scenery. Whether you’re looking for peaceful lakeside strolls, atmospheric forest walks, or epic backcountry hikes, there’s a snowshoe trail here for you, all with simply incredible mountain views along the way.

It’s easy to combine a snowshoeing trip with other outdoor activities, from ice-skating on the frozen lakes to cross-country skiing, sometimes passing by some fascinating historic sights and old mining towns. After a day out in the crisp Colorado winter air, you’ll be ready to curl up in a cozy restaurant or bar and sample some of the excellent craft beer on offer throughout Colorado!

We think that snowshoeing in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is a fabulous way to experience the majesty and beauty of Colorado’s wild countryside. To whet your appetite for the trail, we’ve collected all our favorite snowshoeing and winter hiking trails into one handy list for you. It’s time to put the Indian Peaks on your winter hiking bucket list!

Top 10 Snowshoe Trails In Indian Peaks Wilderness

Snowshoeing in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is a pure delight, with a wide variety of trails to suit all ages and ability levels. In particular, there are many short, easy trails in incredibly picturesque landscapes that are perfect for beginners or young children. The spectacular scenery of the Indian Peaks Wilderness means that you’ll enjoy stunning mountain views without having to exert much effort. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, there are plenty of longer, more strenuous trails that will take you deep into the wild. This is the ideal way to escape the crowds and enjoy the peace and serenity of a snowshoeing trail.

  • Brainard Lake Snowshoe Trail: This lovely snowshoe trail takes you to a stunning alpine lake where you can enjoy incredible views over the Continental Divide and the Indian Peaks. The route is relatively flat, passing through a dense pine forest until you reach the lake, surrounded by tall craggy peaks. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area also has plenty of other activities on offer, including cross-country skiing, so this is a great option for a fun winter’s day out.
  • Lone Eagle Peak Snowshoe Trail: This beautiful, challenging snowshoe trail takes you all the way to Mirror Lake, where you’ll have a breathtaking view of Lone Eagle Peak. Passing by a series of lovely waterfalls, this is a wonderful trail for wildlife spotting, with the chance of seeing black bears in late autumn or early spring. Although the trail itself isn’t difficult, this is a long and strenuous trek over some rugged terrain. However, the views make all the effort worthwhile.
  • Lost Lake Snowshoe Trail: Looking for a relatively easy snowshoe trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness? Look no further than the wonderful trail that leads to Lost Lake. The trek begins at the historic Hessie Townsite and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the views, learn a little local history and explore the region around the lake.
  • Caribou Hill Snowshoe Trail: This secluded area is an excellent place to try winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, with some truly spectacular scenery and flat, easy trails. Caribou City is an abandoned mining town high in the Rocky Mountains, and this loop trail will take you around Caribou Hill over easy terrain. If you’re new to snowshoeing, this route is one of the best snowshoe trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
  • Hessie Trail Snowshoe Trail: This short and easy winter snowshoe trail is the best way to get some stellar mountain views without having to put in too much effort. Passing through dense pine forest and aspen groves, the trail traverses the Fourth of July Valley. You can adapt the length of the trail according to your fitness level and time available, making this an excellent option if you’re looking for a family snowshoe trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
  • Lake Isabelle Snowshoe Trail: If you’re looking for a little winter solitude, this wonderful snowshoe trail to Lake Isabelle is the perfect option. The trail ascends through the forest, passes by Long Lake and finally reaches the beautiful Lake Isabelle, with glorious views of the Isabelle Glacier beyond. This is an exposed trail, and you’ll need to be prepared for high winds and the risk of winter storms in the afternoons and evenings.
  • Dot Trail Snowshoe Trail: This easy winter hike is the ideal way to introduce kids to the delights of snowshoeing! The trail ascends mildly and offers spectacular views over the Indian Peaks, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and James Peak. The Dot Trail follows a loop but there are plenty of spurs that break off from the main path, allowing you ample opportunity to explore the area. It’s no wonder that this snowshoe trail is a local favorite!
  • Mud Lake Snowshoe Trail: Mud Lake can be found just off the Peak to Peak Highway, in a beautiful mountain park offering a wide variety of winter recreational activities. The Mud Lake trail is a loop in a figure of eight, taking you around the lake before joining with the Kinnikinnick Loop. This is a popular place for all kinds of winter sports and is also ideal for fat biking!
  • Barker Reservoir Snowshoe Trail: This picturesque snowshoe trail takes you to the lovely Barker Reservoir, nestled in the mountains at the end of Boulder Canyon. You’ll have a lovely view of the town of Nederland, set against a wintry backdrop that includes the snowy Eldora Mountain Resort and the Indian Peaks. This easy out-and-back trail is a great option for beginners or young children.
  • Sourdough Snowshoe Trail: This moderately challenging snowshoe trail climbs through the beautiful Roosevelt National Forest. This is a wonderful trail for beginners who want to test their fitness or snowshoeing ability, requiring a steady climb through some lovely scenery. This is also a popular place for cross-country skiing and fat biking, and you can rent kit in the nearby town of Nederland.

When Is The Best Time To Go Snowshoeing In Indian Peaks Wilderness?

The winter sports season in Colorado runs from mid-November to early April, but we think that the best time to go snowshoeing in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is between the end of January and early March. In November and December the snowfall can be a little irregular, and you may find that there isn’t enough cover for a satisfying snowshoeing expedition. By the end of January, you’ll have the best chances of decent snowfall, although the weather can be very cold. In February and early March, the weather is slightly warmer, and you’ll have a good chance of some long, sunny days. As always, try to avoid school holidays, and head out on the trail in mid-week if possible, as you’ll be able to enjoy the trail in peace and quiet!

Other Outdoor Activities In Indian Peaks Wilderness

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is a haven for winter sports, and is a particularly popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s also a great place for downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and ice skating, and the region offers some dazzling views of the dramatic mountains covered in the blanket of white powder. However, whatever time of year you travel, you’ll find plenty of other outdoor activities in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. In summer, don’t miss the amazing hiking and backpacking trails, as well as the opportunity to go trail running, rock climbing, fishing, and wildlife watching.

How To Plan A Trip To Indian Peaks Wilderness

The Indian Peaks Wilderness is a magical place for a snowshoeing trip, and should be on every adventurer’s bucket list! To help you plan the perfect trip, we’ve collected all the important information in our guide to planning a trip to the Indian Peaks. Here you’ll find tips on where to stay, places to eat, how to get around, and of course, insider tips on all of the best outdoor activities in the region. This stunning part of Colorado is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors, and the scenery is breathtaking, whatever time of year you choose to visit.

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Indian Peaks Wilderness

What do you wear for snowshoeing in the Indian Peaks Wilderness?
The most important part of any snowshoeing trip is to dress in warm, comfortable, waterproof clothing. Dress in layers so you can adapt to any changes in temperature, and wear warm, waterproof boots that have been properly broken in. Poles are not necessary for snowshoeing, but are highly recommended, especially if you’re a beginner.

Is snowshoeing dangerous?
Snowshoeing is a fun winter sport, enjoyed by keen hikers of all ages and ability. However, as with any outdoor activity, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers out on the trail. When snowshoeing, it’s important to be aware of the risks of avalanche, as most backcountry trails will take you close to avalanche zones. We’d recommend taking basic avalanche training before you go. Make sure to check the weather before you set out, and make sure to bring all the essential kit for your trip (including sunscreen, water, map and compass, flashlight, first aid kit, and matches).

How much snow is needed for snowshoeing?
If there are less than 3 or 4 inches of snow, snowshoes are not usually considered necessary. However, once the level of snow reaches 6 inches, you’ll want to use your snowshoes to avoid sinking deep into the snow as you walk. Be aware that snow levels might be lower at the beginning of the route; so make sure to check the trail conditions before you set off.

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Best Snowshoe Trails in Indian Peaks Wilderness

Open details for Brainard Lake Snowshoeing

Brainard Lake Snowshoeing

Easy
11.0 km
139 m
3-4h

The Brainard Lake snowshoeing trail takes you to a beautiful alpine lake with panoramic views of the Continental Divide and Indian Peaks. This is a stunning trip for a clear winter day. You can spend the rest of the day enjoying other activities in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Lake Isabelle Trail

Lake Isabelle Trail

Hard
16.7 km
285 m
4-6h

A winter hike or snowshoe along Lake Isabelle trail not only takes you to a beautiful alpine lake with views of Isabelle Glacier but will often lead you to find yourself in solitude, breaking trail, and spotting an abundance of wildlife.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Lone Eagle Peak

Lone Eagle Peak

Very Hard
24.5 km
723 m
6-9h

The winter hike to Mirror Lake, below Lone Eagle Peak, takes you on a long but beautiful hike deep into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The views of Lone Eagle Peak from Mirror Lake are spectacular.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Hessie Trail

Hessie Trail

Easy
6.7 km
190 m
1.5-2h

Hessie Trail is a moderately easy winter hike that begins at the historic Hessie Townsite; an old mining town high in the Rocky Mountains. The Hessie Trail winter hike offers a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak, giving way to great mountain views without much effort.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Lost Lake

Lost Lake

Moderate
9.8 km
345 m
3-5h

The snowshoe or winter hike to Lost Lake is not as daunting as the name suggests. Lost Lake is a very popular, family-friendly winter hike but that does not mean it is not worth checking out if you are not towing behind a kid or two. It offers great mountain views along with some mining history at both the trailhead and the destination!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Caribou Hill

Caribou Hill

Easy
3.6 km
141 m
2h

Caribou Hill is a secluded winter hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing destination in the historic ghost town of Caribou City. It is a great place to check out for anyone new to winter hiking - the elevation is minimal, while the winter scenery is worthwhile!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Dot Trail

Dot Trail

Very Easy
2.2 km
56 m
2h

Dot Trail is a family-friendly, easy winter hike around a scenic overview of Indian Peaks. The trail is relatively short with little elevation gain but it is truly a secret gem, offering a wonderfully scenic hike in a quiet wilderness setting.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Mud Lake

Mud Lake

Very Easy
3.7 km
49 m
2h

Mud Lake is a mountain park located off the Peak to Peak Hwy, it is excellent for beginner cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking and fat biking. There are several trails in the area taking you to different overlooks and around Mud Lake, which makes for a really fun, choose your own adventure style day out!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Barker Reservoir

Barker Reservoir

Very Easy
3.4 km
71 m
<1h

Barker Reservoir is nestled in the mountains at the end of Boulder Canyon. A winter hike or snowshoe takes you to views of a picturesque landscape with the small mountain town of Nederland, Colorado in the background.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Sourdough Trail

Sourdough Trail

Hard
18.1 km
561 m
4-6h

Sourdough Trail is a popular cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trail, conveniently off of the Peak to Peak Hwy. It is a beautiful out and back climb through Roosevelt National Forest!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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Open details for Planning your trip to Indian Peaks

Planning your trip to Indian Peaks

By Richard Campbell
April 7th, 2018
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