Blue Lake - Brainard Lake Colorado

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Blue Lake is set in the peaceful confines of the Indian Peaks. Access is easy to this beautiful alpine amphitheater.

Written by

James Dziezynski


5.3 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

16.4 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours



All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits


$10 per car / $1 per hiker on foot or bike (Pass good for 3 days)

Topographical Map

Blue Lake Map

Land Website

Blue Lake



Located in Roosevelt National Forest about an hour from Boulder, the hike to Blue Lake is 5.3 miles round trip. Beginning at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead, you will pass a few streams while you hike, fields of wildflowers, and clear views of the Divide. There is a makeshift bridge crossing over Mitchell Creek. Both Mitchell Lake (at the base of Mt. Audubon) and Blue Lake can be seen on the route. The route is moderate in difficulty with the hardest part being the half mile climb up to Blue Lake.

Ambitious mountaineers and climbers can use Blue Lake as a launching point for 12,797 ft. Mount Toll (seen above) or the ski-friendly chute of Crooked Couloir on 13,233 ft. Mount Audubon. Whatever your adventure, bring your camera -- Blue Lake is one of the most scenic areas in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. 

What Makes It Great

Blue Lake starts from the busy Brainard Lake Recreation Area but within minutes the peacefulness and solitude of the mountains will become apparent. Starting from the Mitchell Lake Trailhead, hikers will pass by the trail's namesake lake before continuing on to the rugged, serenely aqua-hued Blue Lake. The haggard pyramid of Mount Toll looms to west. 

It's a peaceful destination that sees few crowds despite the easy access and a good trail. At 11,350 ft. the lake sits below treeline is exposed in all directions to fantastic views, thanks to the low-lying shrubs and willows. It's not unusual to see one of the resident moose patrolling the shores of Blue Lake. 

Who is Going to Love It

Hikers looking for a good half-day outing to a highly photogenic alpine lake will appreciate Blue Lake's wilderness setting. It is only a moderate hike in and the aspects of Mount Toll, Mount Audubon and Navajo Peak are impressive. It's also fun to explore the basin just beyond the lake or just hang out and watch the afternoon clouds roll in. 

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Blue Lake

Ward, CO,
40.079185, -105.57883

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