Mitchell Lakes Trailhead


Range: Front Range
Coordinates: 40.08358, -105.58134

Road Difficulty

Paved Road 0   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)

Driving Directions

From Highway 72, just a mile or so north of the town of Ward, turn west onto America St./Brainard Lake road. Drive over 2 miles to reach the entrance to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, pay the fee and continue 2 more miles to reach Brainard Lake. Pass the lake and continue 1 mile to the Mitchell Lakes trailhead. It has a large, paved parking area and restrooms. The Mitchell Lakes and Audubon Peak trails start on the north (upper) end of the parking lot.

Winter Access

Status Updates 
Posted By: Cereal
Info: (See separate CR for Mt Audubon.)

Any car can get to the winter lot. Bathrooms open.

We used snowshoes to get to the Mitchell Lakes TH from the winter lot. There are plenty of trenches. You could do it without snowshoes, and many were in the afternoon today.

In case it is helpful, the winter lot is here: This adds three miles one-way to get to the Mitchell Lakes TH.
Posted By: cougar
Info: gate still closed, but Brainard Lake road is practically dry and rideable. All toilets still closed. Tons of people up there, tons of doggie bags piled up around toilets, and seemed like one per parking space at the winter lot. Sheriff was up there for some reason later in the day, saw lots of people parked down the road below the lot.
Posted By: SnowAlien
Info: Still Winter closure at Brainard lake rec area. But the road to Brainard lake is plowed and dry. A few snowdrifts to Mitchell lake area TH, then continuous snow starts. After a couple of snow covered miles, the trail up Mt Audubon is mostly dry above the treeline. Crooked couloir is still in for now.
Posted By: brech
Info: Road is open to Brainard Lake parking. Still closed past there to the trailhead parking lots. Roads to them are almost clear. Trails are 50/50 snow dirt for the first 1/2 mile then mostly covered to Mitchell lake. Above there the snow cover is amazing.
Posted By: thebeave7
Info: Road is clear to Brainard lake, but the winter gate is still locked (bikeable). Behind Brainard it was near full snow coverage to the trailheads, I skied but others were hiking.
Going to be a long time before the trailheads melt out.
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: As of Monday 10/15, the Brainard Lake gate will be closed for the season.
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: Brainard Lake Road re-opened Friday, June 29th!
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: The ongoing Brainard Lake Road reconstruction project will impact access to this trailhead through July 2018.

Currently, the road is CLOSED TO EVERYONE for select hours during the week (M-F). Closures begin at the Peak-to-Peak Highway (SH 72), prohibiting access to the winter trailhead. Brainard Lake Road is currently open on weekends. Starting in Monday March 12th 2018, Brainard Lake Road will be closed 24-hours a day, seven days a week through Thursday, June 28 to allow for uninterrupted construction work and a safe work zone.

NOTE: The recreation area and wilderness area trails will remain open during this time, and can be accessed via other area trails.

See the website for more detailed information:
Posted By: kingshimmers
Info: The Mitchell Lake Trailhead parking lot has been filling up *very* early on weekends. Today the Brainard Lake main lot was nearly full by 8:30am.
Posted By: Tomalamo
Info: Mitchell Lake TH and Long Lake TH are not open yet as of 7/4. You have to park at Brainard Lake and hike to these two trailheads. Not sure why they aren’t open yet since the roads are completely clear of snow. I asked one of the rangers when they would be open, and he couldn’t tell me. He said it’s the decision of the Forest Service.
Posted By: Garrett7m
Info: Trailhead road open. Parking at a premium after 10am
Posted By: adrenalated
Info: Road is closed at Brainard Lake, 1mi below the trailhead.

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