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blue Mitchell Lake Trail Out and Back

  4.7 ( 42 ) Favorite

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5.4 mile 8.7 kilometer out and back
90% Runnable


Ascent: 864' 263 m
Descent: -863' -263 m
High: 11,387' 3,471 m
Low: 10,524' 3,208 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 15% (9°)


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Trail shared by Tom Robson

An easily accessible, high alpine lake trail surrounded by stunning aspens.

Tom Robson

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Campfires are not allowed. Camping is only permissible in this zone between December 1 and April 30. From May 1 through November 30, this area is day-use only.


This high alpine run is readily accessible from the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and thus is one of the most popular routes in the area.

If you can, be sure to hit this run on a nice fall day. The aspens in this area are amazing!

Need to Know

The Brainard Lake Road is open seasonally. During these months, a vehicle fee applies for trailheads located within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

Runner Notes

This is not be an ideal route for running. From the get-go there are large boulders that fill the trail surface. So, unless you're someone who likes technical trail running, you might want to avoid this route.

Be careful and courteous when passing other pedestrians - you'll encounter many hikers on this route!


The wooded Mitchell Lake Trail to Blue Lake enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness near the bridge across Mitchell Creek. It continues on a good trail for 0.5 miles to Mitchell Lake and crosses a bridge over the inlet.

Another 1.5 miles of trail takes you up a slope, then along the creek in an open valley to Blue Lake. This lake lies at tree line below Mount Toll (elevation 12,979 feet), a cone-shaped pinnacle on the Continental Divide. When snowy, it is very easy to lose the trail and close attention is necessary.

Flora & Fauna

Be on the lookout for pika, marmot, and moose! Additionally, this trail is great for fall aspen viewing.


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Aug 10, 2018
Matthew Macfarlane
Trail conditions great. Saw two moose about a mile in only 30 feet off trail. Beautiful scenery the whole way. 5mi
Jul 16, 2018
Jennifer Schneider
Ran up and hiked down. Saw a moose at dusk!
Oct 15, 2017
Becky Campbell
only to river crossing, as whole path under ice water
Jul 22, 2017
Nick Wilder
A half-run. Tricky surface for running past the first mile. 6.5mi — 1h 31m
Jul 14, 2017
Jen McMurtrey
Sep 17, 2016
Regina Philange

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 42 votes


  4.7 from 42 votes
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