Trail Length: 9.0 miles roundtrip
Trailhead Elevation: 10,372’
Maximum Elevation: 11,041’
Elevation Change: +669′ net elevation gain (+791′ total roundtrip elevation gain) Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous
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.
We hiked up in the Indian Peaks Wilderness a few weeks ago and it reminded us how beautiful this area is that we decided to go back and hike the Long Lake/Lake Isabelle trail. We had done this hike several years ago in September (see blog posting here) but hadn’t hiked it in the summer for quite some time.
We got an early start again on a Sunday since this is such a popular area. We arrived at Brainard Lake shortly after 7:30am and all of the parking spots were already filled at the trailhead parking area so we had to go back to the main day use area to park and extend our hike by a couple of miles!
We started out from the car around 7:47am and headed down the trail. After about 1 ½ miles, we arrived at Long Lake.
After a few pictures, we continued hiking along the north shore of the lake. We passed an oncoming hiker that told us a moose had just crossed the trail up ahead. We were on the lookout but never saw him. We stopped on the west side of the lake to take some pictures at a large meadow of wildflowers.
We continued on up the trail. The forest thinned and we came across a big snow field just below Lake Isabelle. More beautiful wildflowers along the stream flowing down from the lake.
We continued up the last climb to the lake.
We found a nice rock for a snack break and to take in the views. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect!
A close up of the peaks will eternal snowfields.
After our break, we started to head down. I did take a slight detour and headed partway up the trail towards Pawnee Pass to get a look on the lake from a little higher up.
Another beautiful mountain stream surrounded by wildflowers along the Pawnee Pass trail.
I turned around and headed back down to find Lisa so we could continue back down the trail. She was busy photographing many wildflowers!
As we continued down the trail, she was able to capture a beautiful butterfly and bird as well.
A beautiful shot of some white, billowy clouds.
We continued down. When we reached the Jean Lunning trail near Long Lake, we took that which followed along the south side of Long Lake and then continued on towards Brainard Lake. This option provided for a loop on the bottom end of the trail with new and different scenery.
We didn’t see any moose today but had a wonderful hike. An overview of our hike.