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Mitchell Lake Trailhead

  

One of the most popular trailheads on the Boulder Ranger District, Mitchell Lake Trailhead is located at the west end of the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Parking is available for 60 vehicles. Trailhead hosts are available to answer questions on summer weekends. This trailhead provides access to Mitchell Lake, Mount Audubon and Beaver Creek trail within the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Visitors that hike trails leading west from the Long Lake or Mitchell Lake Trailhead are responsible for following all Indian Peaks Wilderness Regulations and permit requirements. Camping and campfires are prohibited within the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone.

This trailhead is open seasonally. For current information on road openings and closures, check the Road Status Table.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Closed to motorized access. Park at the Gateway Trailhead, located two miles east of Brainard Lake, for free non-motorized use.
Fees Brainard Lake Recreation Area fees apply during the summer operating season (typically late June through mid-October):
  • Passenger Vehicles (per vehicle/3 days): $11
  • Vans (per vehicle/1 day): $27
  • Buses (per vehicle/1 day): $44
  • Motorcycles (per cycle/3 days): $6
  • Hiker/Biker/Walker (per person/3 days): $1
  • Short-term Bicyclist: 30 minute free pass
  • American Land & Leisure Season Pass (passenger vehicles): $60
  • American Land & Leisure Season Pass (hiker/biker/walker): $22
Interagency Annual, Military, Senior or Access passes, Golden Age and Golden Access passes are accepted. No fee is charged when the seasonal gate is closed (winter season).
Permit Info: This trailhead accesses the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, which requires camping permits for all overnight trips between June 1 and September 15. Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round. Overnight permits cost $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15. Day-hiking permits are free year round.
Usage: Heavy
Restrictions:
  • Prohibited: Pack animals (horses/llamas); recreational shooting (except for legal hunting) and being on trails posted as closed.
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Summer Season (May 1 - Nov 14): Dogs must be on a hand-held leash at all times; when open, developed camping is only allowed at Pawnee Campground (no camping in closed campgrounds); dispersed camping is only allowed north of the South St Vrain Creek.
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Winter Season (Nov 15 - Apr 30): Motorized vehicles are prohibited; dogs allowed only on the Brainard Lake and Lefthand Park Reservoir Roads; camping is prohibited within 1/4 mile of developed recreation sites except Red Rock Lake; skis only on Little Raven and CMC Ski Trail.
  • Fishing and Hunting: Permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Ward, Colorado
Water: Streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilet
Operated By: Concessionaire: American Land & Leisure
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301, Phone 303-541-2500, Fax 303-541-2515; Contact Us

General Information

Directions:

From Colorado Highway 72 at Ward, turn west onto the Brainard Lake Road. Travel 2.5 miles to the entrance portal, and continue another three miles to Mitchell Creek Trailhead.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Hiking

Hide detail HIDE

Day Hiking



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=28200&actid=50