Hike to Colorado's Isabelle Glacier

8.4 Miles Round Trip - 1600 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Isabelle Glacier Trail - Search Nearby - Added by Eric Schuette

Experience one of the coolest glaciers in the front range of Colorado via an easy day hike. You'll pass by gorgeous Lake Isabelle en route to the glacier, as well as several beautiful meadows (full of flowers in the summer).

Getting There

The trailhead can be reached from Boulder by driving west through Boulder Canyon on Highway 42 to Nederland, then going north on the Peak-to-Peak Highway 72 to the town of Ward. From there, a National Forest Sign on the west side of the highway provides directions to the ranger station, which is five miles west on a paved park road. A five-day park pass costs $8; a seasonal pass is $35; and if you have the America the Beautiful pass, it's free! The parking lot fills up early, so make sure you arrive before the crowds. No spots left? Park at Brainard Lake, which increases the length of the hike by several miles each way.

Note: In the winter, trailhead access is very difficult since to the road at the entrance station is closed. Be aware that some avalanche danger does exist on this trail.

The Trail

This hike begins at the Long Lake trailhead located in the Brainard Lake recreation area. Follow the Long Lake trail along an easy grade until you reach the junction with the Isabelle Glacier/Pawnee Pass trail. Take the fork to the right and continue to Lake Isabelle. Here, continue on the trail around the lake (ignoring the trail to the right that goes to Pawnee Pass) until you near the outlet stream.

From here, the trail climbs up through waterfalls and meadows into a wet valley shelf. The south or left side is usually the easiest route, but expect marshy conditions. The trail can be hard to follow but generally hugs the south side of the valley. As you climb through talus to a tarn below the glacier, occasional cairns mark the route.

Follow the tarn stick to the north side of the trail as it veers toward a large cascade. From the cascade, the trail switchbacks steeply through talus (the easiest route is through the rocks) into the basin containing Isabelle Glacier. Once at the base of the glacier, take in the stunning scenery around you or climb up the glacier as far as conditions, gear, and comfort level allow. Near the top, the slope can be 40-45 degrees.

Be aware that most of this hike lies in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and there are many restrictions to follow pertaining to pets, camping, and hiking.

Tags

Camping
Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Details

8.4 Miles
1600 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Hostel

From $39/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Camping

From $40/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Cabin

From $149/night

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder A-Lodge Hotel

From $99/night

Nearby Adventures

Snowshoe or Ski Lake Isabelle

10 Miles Round Trip

Hike to Lake Isabelle

4 Miles Round Trip

Hike Pawnee Pass and Pawnee Peak

9 Miles Round Trip - 2400 ft gain

Hike Shoshoni Peak

10 Miles Round Trip - 2800 ft gain

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

One Of My Favorite CO Hikes!

This is a great hike, close and convenient to Denver and Boulder. This hike is fairly easy but has stunning views, making it my go-to for out of town visitors who might not be adjusted to the altitude or who are not avid hikers. Almost anyone can do this trail and will be amazed by the views!

Breathtaking

I normally don't review places, but for some odd reason I feel compelled to do so. Whether it had to do with the park ranger to offer to carry my dog's poop back for me or the breathtaking view at the end. It was well worth the hike. It is now one of my favorite places to go to. I will say that the entrance fee is now $10. But the park rangers are super friendly and really enjoy their job.

Love!

Love love love! One of the best hikes I've done. Our route was about 9.2 miles round trip. So beautiful and hardly didn't see anyone after we passed the lake

Summer, a season not to be missed in Aspen!

"I came for the winter, and stayed for the summer," is a phrase you'll often hear around town.  The weather is one of the highlights. During the day the temperature hovers in the 70's and 80's, and by evening the mercury will drop into the 60's. Arts & culture enthusiasts will be just as fulfilled as the adventure junkie during summer in Aspen.  The events calendar abounds with activities for everyone, from cultural events to athletic pursuits.

Experiencing all Aspen has to offer is as easy as opening the front door. Join us for a summer adventure that’s anything but ordinary.

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