Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Lake Isabelle & Isabelle Glacier Trail

  • ★★★★
  • 10.8 miles round trip (out & back)
  • Elevation gain: 1,510 feet
  • 3-5 hours
  • Moderately strenuous
  • A large lake & glacier views above treeline

Distance from Denver: 1 hour 20 minutes


Parking: $11

I was surprised to learn that Colorado still has glaciers! Isabelle Glacier is not as huge as ones you would find in Alaska, but it is still a cool sight to see and this hike takes you along plenty of gorgeous scenery along the way.

Begin the hike at Long 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 Long Lake or Mitchell Lake, legal spots along the main road, or the largest lot near the Pawnee Campground east of Brainard Lake.

Once you’ve made it to the trailhead, follow signs toward Lake Isabelle and walk alongside aptly-named Long Lake. After a few more minutes of hiking, make a left on the clearly marked trail toward Lake Isabelle. This beautiful stretch will soon take you along a hillside parallel to the lake. After the lake, you’ll have some river crossings and a steep climb toward the glacier. The trail ends at the glacier, which is beautifully surrounded by three epic mountain peaks. Return on the same path to the trailhead.

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