Jean Lunning (#907)

Photo of the start of the Jean Lunning Trail showing a wooden sign and trail in dense forest

Length: Niwot Cutoff Trailhead (TH) to Jean Lunning - 0.6 miles; to Pawnee Pass Trail - 1.9 miles; Niwot Ridge - 3.2 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY

Elevation: 10,300 feet at the TH; 10,521 feet at Long Lake; 11,442 feet at Niwot Ridge.

Trail Summary: From the Niwot Picnic Area inside the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, the Niwot Cutoff Trail leads 0.6 miles west up a gradual slope and through the woods to Long Lake and Jean Lunning Trail. The Jean Lunning Trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness and continues west along the south side of Long Lake on a wide, gentle trail with several bridges and boardwalks. Together with a segment of Pawnee Pass Trail it forms a 4.1-mile loop around Long Lake.

The Niwot Ridge Trail (unsigned) heads south from the Jean Lunning Trail a few hundred yards into the Wilderness Area. To hike up Niwot Ridge, follow the Niwot Ridge Trail up the hill. The trail passes through alpine forest and climbs into the alpine tundra.

The Niwot Ridge area has been designated by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve for arctic and alpine research. Please remain on the trail and do not disturb scientific instruments in place on the ridge.

Click here for a trail summary.

View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Fees: Brainard Lake Recreation Area fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid/late-June through late September).
Permit Info: This trail lies within the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:
  • Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 through November 30.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Hiking conditions are best from July through October
Restrictions: Indian Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:
  • Camping is prohibited on this trail from May 1 through Nov 30.
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized transportation are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires are prohibited year round.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12.
  • Packstock (horses, llamas, etc.) are prohibited.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife. 
Closest Towns: Ward, Colorado
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Vault Toilet at Niwot Picnic Area
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


From Colorado Highway 72 at Ward, turn west onto the Brainard Lake Road. Travel 2.5 miles to the entrance portal, continue another two miles to parking at Brainard Lake, and walk 0.5-1.0 mile (depending on the parking sites available) to Niwot Picnic Area.


This relatively level trail forms a loop around Long Lake with a portion of Pawnee Pass Trail. The trail is constructed to be accessible by people with disabilities. Strong skiers and snowshoers enjoy this trail in winter, accessed from Red Rock Trailhead.


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