- 5 miles round trip (out & back)
- Elevation gain: 830 feet
- 3-4 hours
- Moderately strenuous
- Wildflowers, creeks, & an epic mountain lake
Distance from Denver: 1 hour 30 minutes
This is one of the best Denver-area hikes – it packs a ton of scenery and nature sights into a short 2.5 mile trail and offers a challenging yet peaceful workout. And when you reach your destination, prepare to be amazed: Blue Lake is easily one of the most unique and beautiful spots in Colorado.
Begin the hike at Mitchell Lake Trailhead in Brainard Lake Recreation Area. You’ll have to pay an $11 entrance fee to the park and then try to find parking at one of the small lots at Mitchell Lake or Long Lake, legal spots along the main road, or the largest lot near the Pawnee Campground east of Brainard Lake.
Once at the trailhead, take a flat trail through forest and across a couple creek crossings to Mitchell Lake. After this, you’ll start to climb and pass an absolutely gorgeous section of creek that is covered in wildflowers during much of spring and summer and take an additional 1.5 mile journey to your destination: Blue Lake. This lake is situated directly beneath dramatic mountain crags and is substantially larger than most alpine lakes. A loop trail allows you to walk around and explore much of the lake. It is a truly epic place! When ready to return, take the same trail back to the trailhead.