Lake Isabelle

After a few days of haze, the smoke has finally begun to clear and reveal the beautiful views Colorado has to offer. In celebration, I decided to venture over to Indian Peaks Wilderness for the first time and hike to Lake Isabelle.

Pro tip: the Brainard Lake Recreation Area that this hike is located in requires a timed entry reservation which you can acquire here.

Indian Peaks Wilderness is located along the Continental Divide and offers some of the most beautiful hiking in Colorado. Located about an hour west of Boulder, Indian Peaks Wilderness offers some fantastic day hikes and backpacking areas.

Indian Peaks is located about 2.5 hours from where I live in Colorado Springs, so I left town around 5:45am and made it to the parking lot just after 8am. The ranger at the entrance instructed me to park at the Brainard Lake Trailhead, though I later learned I could have continued on and parked at the Long Lake Trailhead. I didn’t mind parking at Brainard Lake because the walk from Brainard Lake to the Long Lake Trailhead was a good warmup, but it did add 2 miles roundtrip.

Long Lake was another beautiful sight as well, and I was hoping to see some moose or even a bear as the park ranger said there had been recent sightings, but I suppose they were all taking the day off because I didn’t see any wildlife.

The proper hike to Lake Isabelle, which begins at the Long Lake Trailhead, is fairly moderate, meandering along the edges of Long Lake before veering right and uphill to reach Lake Isabelle. The last half mile or so of the hike is fairly steep, though the views that soon emerge make it well worthwhile. Lake Isabelle itself was absolutely stunning, and you have plenty of options for exploring the shore of the lake and the surrounding meadows. The lake is framed by stunning peaks and the area was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in the state.

The lake wasn’t too crowded by the time I arrived, but after stopping to rest and take some pictures, the hike back was fairly busy. All Trails reports the hike to be about 5.5 miles roundtrip with about 550 feet of elevation gain. I would say this hike is appropriate for new and experienced hikers, and there were lots of families when I went! Because of how popular this area can be, I would recommend visiting during the week or earlier in the morning on the weekend.

Pro tip: dogs are welcome but must stay on leash – there were lots of dogs when I went, and I even brought my own, Willie, but if you’re doing the same, please abide by the leash rules! There were several times unleashed dogs approached Willie and I, and though Willie is friendly, not every dog is. Plus, there’s always the chance you’ll see some wildlife, and even well-behaved dogs have been known to take off after other animals.

Overall, this was a gorgeous hike and I hope to return again soon. Let me know if you’ve hiked to Lake Isabelle yourself, and drop your recommendations for hikes in Indian Peaks Wilderness!

Mayflower Gulch Trail

I’ve been wanting to get out and take advantage of the warm weather before Colorado goes full fall mode, so I decided to explore the Mayflower Gulch Tail. This trail is located near the town of Breckenridge and will lead you along an old wagon trail to the abandoned Boston mine camp where you can roam among old cabin ruins. The trail itself is about 6.1 miles out-and-back, though you can add mileage by hiking around the gulch once you reach then cabins, and gains about 1,500′ of elevation. The trail gains elevation at a fairly moderate rate but once you reach the cabins it makes the whole hike worthwhile! Unfortunately, it was still pretty hazy from the wildfires when I took on this hike, so I’d love to return when the weather is a bit clearer.

Check out All Trails for all the info!

Blue Lakes Trail + The Breckenridge Troll

Happy Saturday folks! We have some friends visiting from Florida and wanted to give them a taste of the mountain life so we settled on a trip up to Breckenridge. The weather was supposed to be a bit dicey but we wanted to check out some local hikes, so we decided to hope for the best and venture out despite the chance of rain. The first stop we made after arriving from Colorado Springs was the Breckenridge Troll. It’s not hard to find this guy as there are plentiful signs and even some fun footprints guiding you to his home in the woods. This ended up being more of a walk than a hike, but there were some other trails in the area if you feel like staying to explore. You’ll reach the troll in just a couple of minutes, and it is definitely a sight to behold. I couldn’t decide if he was creepy or cute, but either way, it was a really cool concept and I love how well-integrated he was with the forests around him.

Next up, we actually backtracked a bit to head to Blue Lakes Trail. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as crowds for this trailhead, but we were pleasantly surprised to see only a few other cars in the parking lot. You’ll pass one beautiful lake as you continue along the road to the upper trailhead, and from there you can either cut to the right for a steep scramble to the top, or cut left for a winding, gradual path. The upper lake was absolutely stunning – super blue, as the name suggests, and surrounded by jagged mountains. We began wandering around and it wasn’t long before we spotted a herd of mountain goats! I’ve seen mountain goats several times before, but this herd actually had a few kids which was such a cool sight. Some of us decided to head uphill for a better look at the herd (while still making sure to give them plenty of space) and along the way we also saw some marmots and pikas. It was so cool watching the herd scramble around, and we got to hear some of the kids crying to their moms which was incredible. All in all, Blue Lakes Trail was an absolutely stunning hike that I’m so glad we decided to check out.

Silver Dollar Lake

My husband and I have a friend visiting from out of town and wanted to spend a day exploring, so we decided Silver Dollar Lake would be the perfect hike! The trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake is located off Guanella Pass Road near Georgetown, CO. I actually did this hike several years ago on a family vacation, but we weren’t able to do the full hike because a storm rolled in suddenly (check out that video here)! It was really fun to return to this hike as a Colorado resident and take our friend along as well. There were some snowfields that you have to cross along the hike which left us pretty sunburnt and with some bad eyestrain, but overall, the hike was just the right level of difficulty and well worth it for the gorgeous views. After the hike we grabbed lunch at Pho Bay in Georgetown which was the perfect post-hike meal. If you’re looking for a solid day hike that will give you some good exposure to altitude, I would definitely recommend this trail!