Mitchell Lake Trail (#912)


Image of a boardwalk section of the Mitchell Lake Trail with rocky slopes and pine trees

Length: Mitchell Lake Trailhead (TH) to Blue Lake – 2.5 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY

Elevation: 10,500 feet at the Mitchell Lake TH; 11,300 feet at Blue Lake.

Trail Description: The wooded Mitchell Lake Trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness near the bridge across Mitchell Creek. It continues on a good trail for a half-mile to Mitchell Lake and crosses a bridge over the inlet.

Another 1.5 miles of trail climbs a bit more steeply, then follows the creek in an open valley to Blue Lake. This lake lies at tree line below Mount Toll, a cone-shaped pinnacle on the Continental Divide. When under snow cover, it is very easy to lose the trail close attention is necessary.

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 Nov 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 November 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: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District; 303-541-2500; Contact Us

General Information


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.


Due to its high elevation, the Brainard area is not generally snow-free until late June or even July in some years. The seasonally-open Brainard Lake Road may be open as late as November 14, but typically is closed due to snow by late October. Strong skiers and snowshoers enjoy this trail in winter, accessed from Red Rock Trailhead.



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Lake and Pond Fishing

River and Stream Fishing


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