Snowshoeing at Brainard Lake, Colorado

Location:  Brainard Lake Recreation Area is located just west of Ward, Colorado. About 90 min from Denver, 45 min from Boulder.

Parking: 40.080155, -105.532961

Distance: ~6 miles roundtrip

brainard lake map
Taken with my Garmin Fenix 2.  The total roundtrip should be closer to 6 miles (I took a couple of detours).


A high-use recreational area, for good reason.  This trek features a snowshoe-only trail the entire distance from the parking lot to the lake, likely due to the vast number of cross country skiers.

Nearly all of this trail is through dense forest, which shields nicely from the high winds produced closer to the lake (see below).

forest snowshoe brainard lake

elevation brainard lakeA relatively flat trail, shy of a couple small climbs, the parking lot sits only 300 feet lower than Brainard Lake, this hike’s destination.  Because of the heavy use of this trail, the snow was packed down, making it easy to cover distance quickly- I was moving at just under 3mph for most of the hike and was passed by an elderly couple, a trademark Coloradian scenario.

Brainard Lake Rec Area is ideal for snowshoers of all skill-levels, including families, which I saw many of.  If getting out on the weekend or the holidays, this is likely not the best spot for those looking for open terrain.

Gear: Snowshoes: Faber Sommet; Mid-layer: Stio Hoodie; Mid-layer 2: OR Cathode Hoody, Mountain Jacket: Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket, Leggings: IceBreaker.

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