***Please note that The Colorado Hiker is no longer being updated.  For current information on this trail and other Colorado tips, please visit Nomad Colorado.  You can find specific information on this trail by visiting the Lake Isabelle Trail page on Nomad Colorado.***

Lake Isabelle Trailhead: Long Lake Trailhead (near Brainard Lake)

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Snowshoeing, Fishing

Closest City / Town: Ward, Colorado

Driving Directions:

  • The Long Lake Trailhead is within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, off Highway 72, 13 miles north of Nederland, and just north of Ward.
  • Turn west onto Brainard Lake Road (County Road 102, National Forest System Road 112).  (Note: This road is closed at the halfway point to Brainard Lake from late October through late June/early July).
  • Travel approximately 5 miles on the paved road to Brainard Lake.
  • The Long Lake Trailhead is .5 miles up the left fork of a side road that turns off at the west end of Brainard Lake.

Hiking Distances: (all distances are one way)

  • Long Lake: .2 miles
  • Lake Isabelle: 2.1 miles

Description: The Brainard Lake area is a busy little bee during the warm season, as is much of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.  However, it’s incredibly beautiful.

Heading out from the Long Lake Trailhead, the trail begins its relatively gentle ascent up to Long Lake and Lake Isabelle.  After a quarter-mile of trekking, the trail intersects the Jean Lunning Trail, which will take you over to and around Long Lake.  Avoid the Jean Lunning Trail and continue uphill to Lake Isabelle.

After approximately 1 more mile, the trail intersects the Jean Lunning Trail for the second time.  Again, continue strait towards Lake Isabelle and Pawnee Pass, bypassing the Jean Lunning Trail.  Lake Isabelle is just another .9 miles beyond this trail junction.

Worth Noting: This is the perfect snowshoeing trail!!!  It offers solitude (vehicle access to the trailhead is closed off during the winter; this means you have to travel an extra 3-4 miles to get to the Lake), incredible views, and an abundance of wildlife.

If you are traveling to Lake Isabelle in the snowy months, it is necessary to have decent orientation skills.  Not many individuals travel to the lake in the winter, and many times you will find yourself breaking trail from Brainard Lake on.

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