Great winter exercise leading to super scenic views of the snow covered Indian Peaks Wilderness just outside Nederland and Ward, Colorado.

long but extremely scenic hike tucked in Colorado's Indian Peaks wilderness. The entire Long Lake trail says 2.3 mile but due to winter conditions and snow pack you can really only make it the east edge of the lake. Exit Long lake loop back on to Brainard Lake Road (currently under construction) for 2 miles to return to parking lot. 

Due to winter road work and road closures this may add 2 miles each way to the normal 2.3 mile trail since you have to park outside "the gates".  This portion of the hike is frustrating because you are walking along a closed road, exposed to wind and conditions for 2 miles before reaching the trail head (however the views are tough to beat). So all in all we did about ~8 miles (2 miles for the road closure, 2 miles to the east edge and then return). 

You will park at parking lot outside Indian Peaks entrance gates then walk 2 miles along Brainard Lake Road to reach trailhead for Long Lake (but again, you can't complete the whole thing). During beginning of walk we used spikes / also optional snowshoe trails...then locate Long Lake trailhead. This is a snow packed trail (you will need microspikes or as winter continues snow shoes). Once you reach the trailhead you can either keep walking on the road through the Pawnee campground to access to the lake trail or start when you see Long Lake trailhead sign (which will come first) to your left off Brainard Lake road. 

Long Lake Trail is traditionally a 2.3 mile loop moderate-traffic trail (we have seen moose and other wild life back here) but we weren't able to complete the whole loop, so this is more a 4 mile out-and-back. Conditions are usually blisteringly cold at the Lake's edge so time up your sunrise or sunset photography as you won't be spending much time here.  

We used the micospikes almost all the entire hike back to the car. Microspikes and snowshoes may be required for this trail however because of a mild winter we passed plenty of people without spikes just winter boots.  As winter begins to hit the higher elevations; this hike may require snowshoes or micro spikes.  

Pack List

  • Warm hiking clothes / double layers 
  • Face protection from high wind
  • Hiking Poles
  • Mico-Spikes or snowshoes or cross country skies -- check conditions for snow levels first 
  • Warm coffee 
  • Camera / Tripod / Filters
  • Plenty of water 
  • Trail snacks 
  • Gloves / Hats / Full winter gear needed 
  • Hiking Boots / warm socks
  • Gaiters
  • Possibly sunscreen depending on conditions 
  • Sunglasses (for sun bouncing off snow fields)
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RT Distance 8 Miles
Elevation Gain 200 Feet
Activities Chillin, Snowshoeing, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildlife

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