Boulder Ranger District summer recreation, Brainard Lake and West Magnolia

Release Date: Jun 14, 2013  

Contact(s): Elsha Kirby


BOULDER, Colo.–It has been warmer recently along the Front Range, however, this late winter’s additional moisture increased snowpack in the high country and snow drifts are slow to melt. For Boulder Ranger District visitors, this means favorite roads, trails, campgrounds, and recreation areas haven’t opened for the season due to snow, mud and downed trees.

Brainard Lake Recreation Area:

  • Crews are working hard to address hazard trees, repair damaged roads, and work around snow drifts that are still blocking vehicle access to the parking area. This work must be complete before the Brainard Lake Recreation Area gate can open. The gate will tentatively open between June 21 and June 30.
  • Pawnee Campground contract work continues. The campground will open this summer, tentatively the first week in July. The renovated campground features two main loops with walk-in tent only campsites, regular tent campsites and RV sites (no hook ups). Pawnee Campground sites cannot be reserved this summer; they will be come, first served.
  • There will be changes to the roads this season. The road around the sound end of the lake will be transformed to accommodate two-way traffic accessing Long and Mitchell Lake Trailheads. The road around the north end of the Brainard Lake will be foot traffic only.
  • Lefthand Park Reservoir will become day use in late June, overnight camping and fires will no longer be allowed.
  • Gates to Long Lake and Mitchell Lake Trailhead parking areas typically open in early July. Trail conditions will likely be snow packed and muddy through mid-July. Be prepared to walk through the mud and snow when venturing this high early in the season (skirting the path to avoid these wet areas widens and erodes the trail).
  • Trails west of the Brainard Lake Recreation Area lead into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Special regulations apply including camping restrictions, group size limits and leash regulations. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/indianpeaksfor more information.

West Magnolia

  •  West Magnolia is now open to vehicle access. Forest Service Road 355D, a loop accessing four campsites, will be closed for repair. These campsites and the road remain closed for the season.
  • The landscape looks very different since completion of fuels treatment, so be careful to stay on designated roads and trails to keep from compacting the newly disturbed soil. Designated U.S. Forest Service non-motorized trails remain in the same location and non-system trails (social trails) will not rehabilitated.
  • Rogue trail-building without U.S. Forest Service authorization is a federal offense. According to Federal Regulations (16 USC 551; 36 CFR 261.10a)constructing, placing, or maintaining any kind of road, trail, structure, fence, enclosure, communication equipment, or other improvement on National Forest system land or facilities without special use authorization, contract, or approved operating plan is an aggravated offense. Violations could result in a mandatory court appearance and a $300.00 fine.
  • Boulder District Ranger is planning to initiate scoping for an Environmental Analysis on the Magnolia trails system following NEPA regulations, which will provide opportunities for visitors and locals to give input and feedback on proposed actions. STAY TUNED for when the scoping letter goes out!
  • For related project details visit: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/westmagnolia

Other Popular Camping Destinations

  • Camp Dick, Peaceful Valley, Kelly Dahl, Meeker Park, Rainbow Lakes and Olive Ridge campgrounds are open. Call the Boulder Ranger District Office for the latest updates (303-541-2500).
  • For more information on developed campgrounds visit

www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/brdcamping

Alternative Camping Areas:

 Tips for Safe and Smart Recreation Experiences

Some standing trees have been weakened over the winter and are susceptible to falling at any time. Visitors are advised to avoid situations that appear dangerous and consider leaving wooded areas when winds pick up. See information on hazard trees in the right-hand menu on the Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/hazardtrees

When hiking trails are blocked by trees, snow or mud puddles, visitors are advised to step over the trees and through the snow and puddles on trails—not around, in order to prevent erosion and damage to trails and nearby vegetation. When driving, be careful of mud and snow drifts. Several visitors have recently reported stuck vehicles on National Forest System (NFS) Roads.

It is important to ‘know before you go’ and use the Forest website: www.fs.usda.gov/arp. Current updates on roads, gates, campgrounds, and recreation areas can be found there.  It’s also a good idea to call your local ranger station and verify the latest information.  Boulder Ranger District visitor information services can be called at (303) 541-2500.  For other contact information resources visit: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/offices

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