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!

Exploring Colorado’s Gold Belt Scenic Byway

Make sure to check out the vlog here!

This past weekend we wanted to get out of the house and do some exploring, but with all the smoke and insanely hot temperatures, we didn’t really feel like hiking. We decided to check out the Gold Belt Scenic Byway, and I’m so glad we took the time to explore it!

Image courtesy of GoldBeltByway.com

The byway covers over 100 miles and goes through a number of unique communities and areas with rich mining histories. We didn’t drive the full byway, but we did see some of the highlights along the route. We left from Colorado Springs and first made our way to Vindicator Valley Trail, a short detour from the town of Victor. This trail takes you through old mining buildings and ruins, and was the perfect way to kickstart our day.

From there, we made our way through Victor and Cripple Creek, and then we took Shelf Road all the way down to Cañon City. This portion of the byway was definitely a highlight, as it took us through some gorgeous scenery. We even ran into a family of sheep along the way!

Cañon City was another cool spot, and the perfect area to grab some lunch and enjoy a walk by the river. All in all, exploring the Gold Belt Scenic Byway was a great way to see some new areas of Colorado without having to sacrifice air conditioning or spend too much time in the smoke!

My Favorite Breweries in Colorado Springs

Happy Sunday! I’m changing it up a bit this week and sharing with you guys some of my favorite breweries in Colorado Springs. Local breweries are a really cool way to experience different cities, and we’ve had a lot of fun checking out various breweries in the past couple months that we’ve lived here.

Trinity Brewing Co.

Trinity Brewing Co. is actually the first brewery we explored in Colorado Springs when we went for my birthday back in January. The staff there are super helpful and friendly and will work with you to recommend a drink that they think you’ll love. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every beer I’ve tried from Trinity (last time I went I tried the Raspberry Kolsch which was delicious) and they even have great food! As a bonus, they also offer some vegan options as well, and their vegan wings are a delicious compliment to their drinks.

Colorado Mountain Brewery

Colorado Mountain Brewery is an awesome option if you want good beer and a great meal. There are two locations and both have a great atmosphere which makes this spot perfect for the whole family, whether you plan on drinking or not. I recommend getting a flight to sample some of their flagship beers, such as the Roller Coaster Red Ale and the Monumental Stout. As far as food goes, you really can’t go wrong, but their bison queso is exceptionally amazing.

Bristol Brewing Company

Bristol Brewing Company is another spot I’d recommend checking out for good beer and an awesome location. This brewery is located in Ivywild School, a former elementary school turned food and event hall that also features a bar-coffeeshop combo and a variety of restaurants (we love Decent Pizza Co.). There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy and the setting is super unique and interesting. Plus, their outside patio is dog-friendly!

Trails End Taproom

Trails End Taproom is a really cool brewery concept: instead of being served specific sizes of drinks, you receive a card that you can scan for a variety of on-tap local beers and pour yourself however much you like. That way, you can try a number of different drinks and you simply pay by the ounce at the end of your visit. This brewery features tons of beers, and even some wine, from local vendors, so it’s a fun way to taste a lot without spending an absurd amount of money.

FH Beerworks

FH Beerworks is the perfect option if you plan to bring your pups with you for a drink. They have a fantastic outdoor patio/garden area with plenty of seating options for you to spread out. This is one of the first breweries we brought our dog Willie Nelson to, and it was a great experience for all of us. More importantly, their beer is amazing as well! We got a flight to sample several different kinds and really enjoyed all of them.

A Weekend in Breckenridge

Hi folks! Recently we’ve gotten to take several trips to Breckenridge and have absolutely fallen in love with this mountain town. We haven’t yet experienced it in the winter, but look forward to checking out the ski resort when the season starts! Today I’ll be sharing with you the perfect 2-day itinerary for exploring all that Breckenridge has to offer.

Day 1: The Great Outdoors

Breckenridge is nestled in between some amazing hiking areas and peaks, so on your way in I definitely recommend stopping for a hike. We loved exploring the Blue Lakes area (check out that blog here) because it was very accessible and offered different options depending on how long and challenging of a hike you are looking to do.
On the way to Blue Lakes, we also passed the parking lot for Quandary Peak, a well-known 14er. I haven’t hiked this mountain myself, but I hear it’s quite challenging, though you do get some rewarding views at the end.
If you have kiddos with you or are looking for something where you can pretty much drive up and explore, I would recommend the Breckenridge Troll, Dillon Reservoir, or Sapphire Point Overlook. All beautiful options with little to no hiking required for some awesome sights!

For lunch, there are tooooons of options available in Breckenridge depending on what you like. I would recommend Breckenridge Brewery & Pub for their delicious brews and small bites. We loved the cheese curds, soft pretzel with beer cheese, and wings! Another good option is Ollie’s Pub & Grub, a low-key spot with classic American fare. This restaurant is located on the river and they also sell fish food for you to throw right off the bridge!

From there, I would recommend resting up at your hotel or Airbnb before taking on Breckenridge at night. If you’re not feeling totally tired yet, it’s also fun to just drive through town and some of the surrounding neighborhoods. There are beautiful mountain views everywhere you go, and there are some pretty spectacular multi-million dollar homes in the area. Another fun option is the Breckenridge Gondola, a series of free gondola rides that offer a unique perspective of the town from above! Plus, it’s a great opportunity to rest your tired feet.

There are dinner options galore in Breckenridge, varying from barbecue to Italian, and everything in between. For a drink and some live music, check out the Gold Pan Saloon, a longtime establishment with a fun western theme. Both times we visited we happened to get Asian for dinner, so I’d recommend Pho on Main or Bangkok Happy Bowl. There are lots of other options though for pretty much any craving you could have! If you’re craving something sweet afterwards, check out Higgles Ice Cream for some deliciously unique flavors.

Day 2: Shop Til You Drop

Before beginning your day of adventuring through town, you of course have to enjoy some breakfast. Cool River Coffee House offers some delicious breakfast sandwiches and baked goods, as well as some fun and unique flavors to spice up your latte or iced coffee. If you don’t mind venturing a little further out, Frisco, a town about 15 minutes from Breckenridge, also has some great restaurants. We thoroughly enjoyed Bread + Salt, a breakfast spot that offered scrambles, hashes, and some delicious challah French toast. Frisco is another great town for walking around if you somehow manage to exhaust your options in Breckenridge!

There are so many shops throughout Breckenridge that you’re sure to find some you love. We always end up at Limber Grove, a spot that features local artists and brands. They have lots of cool stickers, hats, shirts, and other beautiful, high-quality souvenirs. We love just strolling up and down the streets and popping into any shops that catch our eye. Whether you’re in the mood to purchase a new bike or some fly-fishing gear, indulge in some handmade fudge, or pick up a fun souvenir for family back home, there are endless options for everything you could think of.

And there you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed this guide to Breckenridge and have the opportunity to explore this beautiful town for yourself.

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!