Brainard Lake Snowshoeing

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Easy
Duration
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.
3-4h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
11.0 km
Elevation
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.
139 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.3
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panoramic views on Brainard Lake snowshoe trail in Indian Peaks, Colorado

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.

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Route Description for Brainard Lake Snowshoeing

The Brainard Lake trailhead is located at the entrance of the Brainard Lake Winter Lot and to the west of the warming hut.

Begin the trail to Brainard Lake by starting on the North Sourdough/ Waldrop Trail, also referred to as the CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) North USFS Trail 814.1. The trail travels through a dense pine forest. You will hike west towards the Continental Divide.

This is a well-traveled trail that is enjoyed by winter hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Follow the signs along the trail to Brainard Lake.

Brainard Lake is a large alpine lake positioned in the foreground of the impressive Indian Peaks in Brainard Lake Recreation Area. The craggy mountains in the background that make up the Indian Peaks are a stunning collection of Colorado 13ers (mountains that are over 3,962 mabove sea-level). Notable peaks are Apache Peak (4,097 m), Paiute Peak (3,989 m), and Mt Audubon (4,032 m).

The north trail will eventually end at Brainard Lake Road on the north side of Brainard Lake. Take the snow-covered road to the west around Brainard Lake until you have wrapped all the way around to the south side of the lake. The CMC South Trail or USFS Trail 814.2 will divert away from Brainard Lake Road and will once again travel through dense pine forests. Follow this trail east all the way back to the Brainard Lake Winter Lot.

Trail Highlights

Brainard Lake

Brainard Lake is the busiest area in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This beautiful alpine lake attracts thousands of visitors each year. Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a perfect place for outdoor activities at any time of year.

Brainard Lake attracts people from all over the country for its hiking trails, great fishing opportunities and hunting. In the winter, the Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a popular destination for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

During the winter season, from mid-October through late-June, entry to Brainard Lake Recreation Area is free of charge.

You can find the winter season map for the Brainard Lake Recreation Area here.

Insider Hints for Brainard Lake Snowshoeing

  • Snowshoes for the Brainard Lake Trail can be rented in the town of Nederland at Happy Trails Café or Wild Bear Ecology Center.
  • Visit the Town of Nederland! We love the Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse for a great pizza and beer after our snowshoe.
  • Check out seasonal updates about the Brainard Lake recreation area here.

Getting to the Brainard Lake Snowshoeing Trailhead

From Boulder, Colorado (1 hour, 40.4 km), take Lee Hill Drive Turn onto Lefthand Canyon Drive heading west towards the town of Ward. Drive through Ward until you reach the end of Lefthand Canyon Dr., at the junction with CO-72 Peak-to-Peak Highway. Turn right onto CO-72 and almost immediately turn left onto Brainard Lake Rd. Follow Brainard Lake Rd. to the entrance gate that is closed for the winter season. Park at the Brainard Lake Winter Lot.

Route Information

  • When to do

    Late November to Early April

  • Backcountry Campsites

    Camping is allowed in the backcountry, no permit required.

  • Toilets

    Yes, primitive pit toilet.

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Good

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Loop

Brainard Lake Snowshoeing Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Brainard Lake Snowshoeing Reviews

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