jasper lake in colorado clouds against blue sky at a lake at the foot of the mount framed by evergreens

Jasper Lake Hike in Indian Peaks

Jasper Lake requires a 5.5-mile (one-way) hike into the mountainous, wildflower-laden Indian Peaks Wilderness. Just 40 minutes outside of Boulder Colorado and about 1hr 15 minutes from Denver, the trail to Jasper Lake gets its start at the Hessie Trailhead. Travel an additional mile beyond Jasper to see Devils Thumb, a striking rock formation that looms above Devil's Thumb Lake. Explore the full Jasper Lake hike profileRead more


long lake in indian peaks wilderness colorado clouds and blue sky with jagged moutnains, evergreen trees and lake

Long Lake Loop in Indian Peaks

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Long Lake offers an easy 1.5 mile loop hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness. Located about 1 hour West of Boulder, Colorado, Long Lake is an easy-to-access alpine lake with stunning scenery. It's a popular spot, especially in the Summer months, so be sure to read the details on access fees and the notes below on the Long Lake Trailhead. Explore the full trail profile for trail maps, driving directions to Long Lake and more.
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Long Lake in Indian Peaks - Trail Snapshot

Parking & Trailhead Information for Long Lake Loop

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Note: This trailhead can only be reached by using Brainard Lake Road, which has seasonal closures. Because the Brainard Lake Recreation area is extremely popular, this entrance road experiences high amounts of traffic during weekends on the Summer. See the USFS page for details. For Brainard Lake Road closure status, see the Boulder Ranger District roads page.
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From Boulder, Colorado, head North on US36/28th Street. Take a left onto Lee Hill Road. Lee Hill Road will dead-end at an intersection with Left-Hand Canyon Road. Take a left onto Left-Hand Canyon Road heading West. Eventually, Left-Hand Canyon Road will turn into Indiana Gulch Road and will turn into Utica Road upon entering the town of Ward, Colorado. Utica turns into Nelson Road (lots of name changes on this trip) then ends at an intersection with 72/Peak to Peak Highway. Take a right onto 72, then the almost immediate next turn will be on your left for the Brainard Lake Road. Travel on Brainard Lake Road 2.2 miles to the entry station where you will need to pay the fee for the recreation area. As you approach the lake, bear right to continue on the Brainard Lake Road for another 1/2 mile, then turn right onto Mitchell lake Road. Go less than 1/10th of a mile, then turn left onto Long Lake Road. After about 1/3 of a mile, you will have arrived at the Long Lake Trailhead and parking area.

In the winter, the Brainard Lake Recreation area is a popular snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination. However, all parking is at the Brainard Lake Gateway Trailhead (near the access gate). It is approx. 4-miles one-way from the Brainard Lake Gateway Trailhead to the Long-Lake Trailhead.

The Hike: Long Lake Loop Hike

From the Long Lake Trailhead, it's an easy and short 0.3-mile hike to Long Lake. Returning via this trail makes this a 0.6-mile out-and-back trip. However, to really take in the best of the Rocky Mountain Scenery, we recommend doing the full 1.5-mile loop.

Having reached the northeastern edge of Long Lake, head south over a footbridge and pick up the Jean Lunning Trail. The Jean Lunning trail travels alongside the southern perimeter of Long Lake and offers stunning views of the jagged mountain peaks surrounding the lake. Eventually, the Jean Lunning trail will intersect with the Pawnee Pass Trail. Take a right on the Pawnee Pass trail to head east and back to the short connector trail that leads back to the trailhead.

long lake brainard lake recreation area

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Long Lake

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Weather

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Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions

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snow and evergreen trees on mountainside against blue clouded sky with Devils Thumb rock formation and lake

Devils Thumb Lake

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Devils Thumb Lake is located in Indian Peaks Wilderness north of Boulder Colorado and can be accessed via a 6.5-mile (one-way) steep and challenging hike. Wildflowers, alpine meadows, small waterfalls, and cascades all beckon those who have the stamina to explore these heights in the Front Range near Denver. Explore the full Devils Thumb Lake hike profileRead more


mountain lake with snowcapped mountains and evergreen trees in foreground with blue sky and cirrus clouds lost lake near nederland colorado

Lost Lake Hike Near Nederland

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Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of the trail, the creeksides, and the small meadows that open up along the trail. In the winter months, the trail up to Lost Lake makes for a good snowshoeing route and cross-country trail. trail (though it's a bit steep on the way up
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While we categorize Lost Lake as a family-friendly hike and a great trail to take in the changing colors of Fall, it's important to know that the hike is uphill and demanding up to its destination. Explore the full Lost Lake hike profileRead more


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Booth Creek Falls Hike Near Vail

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Booth Creek Falls is a 60-foot waterfall located in the Eagles Nest Wilderness near Vail, Colorado. The journey to the waterfall requires a strenuous, 2-mile hike along the banks of Booth Creek. Explore the full Booth Creek Falls hike profileRead more


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Tarryall Falls Near Jefferson, Colorado

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The Tarryall Falls Trail is a short, 1/4 -mile hike across a small canyon to a waterfall that pours into Tarryall Creek. The slopes of snow-capped peaks along Boreas pass make for a majestic backdrop against the contrasting sage grasslands of surrounding South Park.Tarryall Falls draws its waters from the Tarryall Reservoir, a popular camping and fishing destination here in the high-plains. Explore the full Tarryall Falls hike profileRead more


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Herman Gulch to Herman Lake Hike

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The Herman Gulch Trail is one of the best summer wildflower hikes near Denver. It's also a challenging winter snowshoe and is often used for cross-country skiing. The Herman Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile (one-way), out-and-back adventure into snowcapped mountain country and provides access to many more trails in Arapaho National Forest. Explore the full Herman Gulch hike profileRead more


snowcapped peaks in distance with green foothills in foreground

Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

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The Beaver Loop is a moderate 2.3-mile loop hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the West. Add a short segment to Slough Pond to make this a 3-mile hike. Explore the trail profile for a trail map, driving directions, and tips for this hike near Golden, CO
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Trail Snapshot: Beaver Loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Parking & Trailhead Information for the Beaver Loop Hike

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From Denver, take US-6 West to Golden. Just outside Golden, US-6 will turn left (West) into Clear Creek Canyon; it's at this intersection that you'll continue North on 93. After 1.3 miles on 93, turn left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road. Now, prepare for the rest of your drive being pretty windy. After 12.7 miles on Golden Gate Canyon Road, it will intersect with Crawford Gulch Road on a wide curve. Turn right onto Crawford Gulch road and the visitor center for Golden Gate Canyon State Park will be on your immediate right. This is the best parking area for the Beaver Loop. However, the parking here fills up fast, especially on the weekends. Another option is to park at the Ralston Roost Trailhead, located about 0.2 mile further down the road (see the State Park Map Link above). A third option is to begin your hike at Slough Pond. This will add about 3/4 of a mile to your hike, making it closer to a 3-mile trip.
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The Beaver Loop Trailhead Across Golden Gate Canyon Road from the Visitor Center
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The Hike: The Beaver Loop Hike in Golden Gate Canyon

The Visitor Center at Golden Gate is worth exploring. Kids will be fascinated by the trout in the man-made creek and small pond surrounding the building. The Beaver Trail can be picked up just South of the Visitor Center by taking one of the paths around the perimeter of the building. The trail begins under the powerlines on the opposite side of Golden Gate Canyon road. Exercise caution crossing the road as vehicles may be descending the hill and not be looking out for pedestrians. Be alert for cyclists, as they frequent the road and come down the hill at high speeds.

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First Trail Fork on the Beaver Loop
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At the first trail fork, hikers have the option of taking the loop clockwise or counter-clockwise. I hiked this clockwise, taking the trail towards the shelter. The clockwise route offers a more gentle ascent, but steep descent on the back side of the loop. Taking it counter-clockwise will mean a steeper ascent and a more gentle descent on the way back, which is probably easier on the knees, but a more demanding climb.

You'll notice that the State Park trail map rates this trail as "most difficult." It's important to note that these ratings are relative to the other trails in the park. I 've classified the Beaver Loop as medium/moderate because, while it does have over 1000' of elevation gain, it is only a 2.3-mile hike. Add about 3/4 of a mile if you make the out-and-back trip out to Slough Pond. See our Hikes by Difficulty page for more hikes and the basic criteria we use to classify hikes. It should be noted that difficulty will differ by persons, so be sure to review the details of a hike before attempting it.

beaver loop golden gate canyon yet another trail sign

Sign Indicating Spur Trail to Shelter
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At approximately 1 mile into the loop, hikers will encounter a sign (pictured above) pointing to a 0.5-mile spur trail leading to a backcountry shelter. A permit is required to camp here and can be purchased online at the Golden Gate Canyon fees page. Continuing on the loop, the trail will soon lead to an overlook of views to the West. During most of the year, snow-capped peaks appear above a verdant green valley in these western foothills.

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After the overlook, the trail begins a steep descent. I had brought my trekking poles (I always bring them), and was glad that I did. I would imagine that this trail gets slicked over with ice and hardened snow during the winter, making it really difficult to navigate. The trail then leads down to an intersection with the Slough Pond trail.

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Downhill Trail Segment on the Beaver Loop
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At this intersection at the bottom of the hill, you have the option of making the trip over to Slough Pond. The hike over to Slough Pond is pleasant and mostly flat. At the pond, a quaint creek flows out of the pond and under a footbridge. Slough Pond is a popular fishing spot and a great place for kids to learn to bait a hook. As mentioned above, adding this out-and-back segment to the hike, makes this closer to a 3 mile hike.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Beaver Loop Hike

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Weather

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Map & Driving Directions


Click for Driving Directions to Visitor Center

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Mohawk Lakes Hike Near Breckenridge

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Mohawk Lakes are situated in the mountains south of Breckenridge, Colorado. Less than a 2-hour drive from Denver, this moderately demanding hike leads through pine and aspen forest, along a mountain stream, to a beautiful waterfall spilling over granite slabs. Breaking out above treeline at mile 3, hikers will arrive at Lower Mohawk Lake, and a bit further up the trail, can take in spectacular views of the neighboring mountain ranges at Upper Mohawk Lake. Explore the full Mohawk Lakes hike profileRead more


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Diamond Lake Hike

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The Diamond Lake Trail leads hikers to a high alpine lake nestled in the forest below Jasper Peak in Indian Peaks Wilderness. This 2.7 mile, moderately demanding trail leads to good fishing at Diamond Lake, past a waterfall and multiple cascades, and opens up to the incredible views that make Colorado's high-country famous. Explore the full Diamond Lake hike profileRead more