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Brainard Lake

We're on a roll - This is week 4 of 4 in the new year that we've gone snowshoeing.

Niether one of us had hiked in the Brainard Lake area before. We knew that the winter was our only chance at going since there are timed entry permits required in the summer, so we decided to head up that way this weekend. There wasn't any fresh snowfall, but there was snow two days prior, and some of that fresh powder was still on the ground. The first half of the hike from the car to the lake probably didn't require snowshoes, but the second half of the loop from the lake back to the car definitely needed snowshoes.

The weather was cooperating for the first half of the hike. There was no wind at the beginning of the hike, and then all of a sudden once we got to the lake it was gusting pretty hard for the remainder of the hike. Even though it was windy, the lake itself was gorgeous. I was worried about the lighting since we got to the lake midday, but the sun was perfectly and evenly lighting the surrounding mountains without making them hazy.

I would definitely like to come back to the Brainard Lake area again. It seems like unless you can snowshoe 8+ miles, there isn't a whole lot of trails to do, so this might be something that we wait until next year or the year after to come back to, or maybe come try it in the summer (since it's easier to hike long distances than snowshoe long distances).

The hike itself ended up being a little over a mile longer than we expected, and we could feel that extra mile in our legs by the time we got back. This is one of the hardest hikes we've done in a long time, but the views were worth it. One thing we did wrong was followed the summer trails, which put us on a ski-route-only trail for about a mile. I've never run into a ski-specific trail before, but a few skiers stopped to nicely tell us we were on the wrong trail, and we were able to hop off the trail and get back on the proper snowshoeing-only trail. But the next time we come to this area we need to double-check the distances of the hike we're attempting and double-check which route we are allowed to be on.

Trailhead Location
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6.57 mi 3.1 hrs 10,251 ft 932 ft
View Graph
Teasing Views
Mount Audubon
Brainard Lake
Lake Selfie