Trail Length: 4.2 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Elevation: 10,515’
Maximum Elevation: 10,903’
Elevation Change: +353′ net elevation gain (+438′ total roundtrip elevation gain)
Trailhead Location: From Highway 72, turn west on Brainard Lake Road. In 2.6 miles you’ll reach a pay station. Continue another 3.2 miles on the paved road to the Long Lake Trailhead.
Lisa and I took this hike up to Long Lake and Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness a few years ago in September. It’s a beautiful hike any time of year but it was nice to see a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks in September.
We headed out of town on a Friday for a weekend getaway in Estes Park. Indian Peaks is typically a pretty crowded area so it was nice to hike up here on a Friday rather than on the weekend to avoid many of the crowds.
The area of the Indian Peaks were included in Enos Mills’ original proposed boundaries for Rocky Mountain National Park (Enos Mills was a naturalist and the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park). They were removed from the proposal after compromising with local and mining interests. Park superintendents tried to annex the Indian Peaks over the years, but the area would not receive protected status until 1978 when Congress designated the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.
We got up to the Long Lake trailhead and headed out on the trail. In only 0.25 miles we came to the eastern edge of Long Lake with a beautiful reflection.
After a few pictures, we continued hiking along the north shore of the lake.
After hiking another hour, we came to the final approach of Lake Isabelle. The water outlet just below Lake Isabelle.
We soon arrived at Lake Isabelle.
Some close ups of the snow-dusted peaks around the lake and some of the big, white, puffy clouds.
We took time for a lunch break and just enjoying the surrounding views.
We took a walk around the lake for some different views of the lake.
Looking back to the east, we saw some storm clouds moving in.
After spending an hour at Lake Isabelle, we decided it was time to head back down – especially with the looks of the clouds moving in. A look back up at the outlet of Lake Isabelle as we were heading down.
A picture of me heading back down the trail.
Back down near Long Lake looking back up the valley with some of the Fall color.
We soon arrived back at the car and headed on towards Estes Park to enjoy the remainder of our weekend in the mountains.