Brainard Lake Recreation Area is the perfect winter mountain escape at a high elevation of 10,300+ feet. Surrounded by subalpine forest and the Continental Divide peaks it’s become a popular destination for winter hiking, snowshoeing & cross country skiing.


Brainard Recreation Area, best trails in Brainard Lake Recreation,

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It’s is late November and the heavier snows haven’t fallen yet but the winter season has started at Brainard Lake Recreation Area. The road is closed at The Gateway Trailhead Parking Lot & all hiking trails start from here.

Map of Brainard Recreation Lake Area winter season > CLICK HERE. 

We started on Sourdough Trail, then Waldron Trail to South St. Vrain Trail to the Brainard Lake Cutoff Trail. Then hiked back on the road to the parking lot. As you can see on the map there are many options to make your own adventure. 


Brainard Lake Trails, winter hikes, winter trails in Colorado


Waldron Trail headed into the forest quickly and the trail became chilly without the sunshine and much snowier. It was a mystical feeling and quiet. Here is where we put our spikes on our boots.

Owning spikes makes a more enjoyable & safe hiking experience!




Felt nice to be outside and enjoy the crisp cold fresh air of early winter. Parts of the trail were icy & snowy as we wandered up & down a mild grade. Rocky in spots but pretty easy going.

For a look at Winter Gear & Clothing that works > CLICK HERE!




This little guy (above photo), Colorado Scrub-Jay, fondly called “Camp Robber” followed us most of the way to Brainard Lake. Tells me he is used to finding food here from humans! Highly recommended not to feed the wildlife.





We popped out of the forest after the Brainard Lake Cutoff Trail and “wow”, the views. Gorgeous snow-capped peaks.  After knocking around the lake for a bit we headed down the road back to the parking lot.



It’s hard to leave the views of the surrounding Indian Peaks Wilderness surrounding us as we head back to the car.

A MUST DO! ‘In late September we hiked higher up into the Indian Peaks Wilderness to  Isabelle Lake & Isabelle Glacier  also located in this Park. One of my favorite all time hikes! 





Brainard Lake Trails in winter, snowshoeing Colorado


Took a peek at Red Rock Lake which we found just before reaching the parking lot.

I’d like to come back when the snow covers the alpine forest trails. With minimal vertical terrain, it’s the perfect snowshoeing area, unlike a lot of high-altitude areas. If you’re a beginner at winter hiking, this is an excellent area to get outside and experience winter. 

NOTE: In Late June to Mid Oct this is a fee area and reservations are required as of late Sept. 2021.

Located in the Brainard Recreation Area > CLICK HERE for information on dogs, regulations & camping > CLICK HERE for reservations.


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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).