Directions: From Boulder, follow 119 through Boulder Canyon west to Nederland. Go through the traffic circle and head north on 72. Travel on the Peak-to-Peak Highway through the town of Ward and look for the sign to Brainard Lake. Turn left (west) onto Brainard Lake Road and follow it to the Entrance Station. Drive through the entrance station to Brainard Lake and bear right around the north shore of the lake. Follow the signs to the Long Lake Trailhead. You can also park at the large parking lots east of Brainard Lake and walk almost 1 mi to the Long Lake Trailhead.
From mid-June to September, the hike to Lake Isabelle provides relatively easy access to a beautiful alpine lake in the heart of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Just drive, or take the shuttle, to Brainard Lake and the Long Lake Trailhead. From there it is roughly 4 miles roundtrip with an option to explore Long Lake via the Jean Lunning Trail adding a little less than a mile to the trek.
Off-season however, the trip along Brainard Lake road can be an adventure in itself. It is roughly 2 miles to Brainard Lake and another mile to the Long Lake Trailhead making the trip to Lake Isabelle a much longer endeavor...but still absolutely worth it.
The hike from the Long Lake trailhead starts out gently along the creek and along the north shore of Long Lake. As you pass the lake the trail starts to head uphill and the fun begins. The trail crosses various creeks and cascading waterfalls as you approach the rock shoreline. The views from the lake are spectacular. The ridge behind the lake consists of a series of sawtooth ridges. You also have the option of continuing further up the trail to reach Isabelle Glacier.
Tip - From the winter parking area do not take the snowshoe trail if there is no snow. The trail is not maintained and if wet, becomes a trudge through a muddy creek. Save your strength and walk the road to Brainard Lake. That being said, make sure to stop at Red Rocks Lake along the way.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Lake Isabelle & Jean Lunning Trail
Indian Peaks Wilderness
Roosevelt National Forest
Brainard Lake Road Parking to Long Lake Trailhead 6.3 miles (Round Trip)
Long Lake Trailhead to Lake Isabelle 4.89 miles (Round Trip)
Elevation Gain - 883 ft
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Fee: Not in the off season