Brainard Lake Recreation Area

You can take a dog into a National Park but unfortunately you can not take them on a hike with you. One of the main reasons that we come to this area is for the hiking available in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We travel with our Border Collie and do not like leaving her in the camper while we are gone most of the day on a hike. Besides that she likes to be out on the trail with us.

We knew that you can take a dog into the National Forest but have not been aware of any developed trails, other than a couple we don’t like too much. Yesterday I was told about an area in the Roosevelt National Forest which borders the Rocky Mountain National Park. I was told that the hike to Blue Lake was very spectacular and of course we could take our dog as long as she was on a leash. So off we went to Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

Brainard Lake is about 30 miles south of Estes Park on highway 72. The elevation of the area is about 10,400 feet. As we drove into the park, we saw several cars pulled off the road. That always means that there is a “sighting”. When we stopped to see, there were three of the largest bull moose that I have ever seen in the wild. They were about 50 yards off the road but I had no place to park. When I did manage to park about 100 yards farther up and then walked back down, the moose had gotten too far off to get a good picture.

As we pulled into the open area of Brainard Lake, we were absolutely stunned by the beauty of the place. It is as magnificent as any place that we have been in the Rockies. We found a place to park at the Mitchell Lake trail head, which is where the hike to Blue Lake begins. Mitchell Lake is one mile up the trail and Blue Lake is 3 miles up the trail. It was about time for our lunch break but because we were running a little late we decided to hike to Mitchell Lake and take the lunch break there.

The hike to Mitchell Lake was not too inspiring because of the dense forest. However, when we arrived at Mitchell, the stunning views began. There were towering mountain peaks on the opposite side of the lake with patches of snow almost touching the lake. To the west end of the lake was lush green grass with a multitude of wild flowers.

There are a number of small lakes from Mitchell Lake on up to Blue Lake and many small streams of water that are flowing down the mountains from patches of snow that haven’t had time to completely melt. Because there is a lot of water on this hike, the wild flowers were still in bloom. I doubt that they were as plentiful as they must be in early spring when the snows begin to melt from the tops of the mountains.

This was by far the most gorgeous hike that we have taken in the Rocky Mountains. If our dog could talk, I’m sure that she would agree. She had a blast with all of the new smells that intrigue dogs. She walked in the mountain streams and sat in snow and of course licked snow for the first time in her life. She seemed to be as tired and happy as we were when we got back to the trail head.


View of Rocky Mountains from entrance to Brainard Lake Recreation Area



Mitchell Lake


Looking up the path

Mountains and wildflowers

Some wildflowers


Mountain Lake

Small lake on way up to Blue Lake



Blue Lake

Blue Lake


Blue Lake

Bradley, Brad, Jane, and Missy at Blue Lake


Mountain Lake

Water fall into Blue Lake


Wild Flowers

Mountain stream through the wild flowers


Snow in the mountains

Bradley and Missy in a patch of snow



Mountain stream flowing from Blue Lake


Dog in flowers

Missy loves to have her picture taken



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