Mitchell Creek Trail
Mitchell Creek Trail begins at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead at an elevation
of 10,450 feet and ends in 2.4 miles at Blue Lake (11,300 feet). There is
parking for about 50 vehicles at the trailhead. This trail is heavily used
and parking lot may fill up by noon. The trail is wide and level through the
spruce forest until just after it crosses Mitchell Creek over a wooden bridge.
It then makes a gentle climb up to the level of Mitchell Lake (10,720 feet).
A side trail takes you to the lake. This part of the trail is easy to hike
and is about .8 miles long. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to hike. The shoreline
of Mitchell Lake is marshy and has short willows up to the water. It would
be easiest to fish with hip boots or waders.
on another 1.6 miles, the trail ends at Blue Lake. At the upper end of Mitchell
Lake the trail crosses a wide stream over some logs. These logs can be slippery
when wet. After crossing the stream, the trail climbs up over some log steps
and a moderately steep grade to a saddle. Here it levels off through stands
of short willows and grassy meadows. Some of the more marshy areas have wooden
walkways. The trail can be very rocky in the open areas. Snow fields come
into view as you approach Blue Lake. Follow the rock cairns across the solid
rock areas toward the lake. Blue Lake sits in a cirque below Mount Toll and
Pawnee Peak. The hike from Mitchell Lake to Blue Lake takes about one to one
and a half hours to hike and is of moderate difficulty.
is a vast array of wild flowers in the wet meadows between Mitchell and Blue
Lakes. Pika and marmots inhabit the rocky talus slopes. Ptarmigan frequent
the shores around Blue Lake and are quite tame. Pine martin can be seen in
the spruce forest along the first leg of the trail to Mitchell Lake and can
be quite curious.
trail lies in the Four Lakes Travel Zone of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Only
day hiking is permitted in this travel zone. Day use is very heavy. Hiking
on this trail is of moderate difficulty.
||2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers)
||10,472' - 11,352'
||July 1 - Sept 15
||Pets must be on a leash, no camping
orcampfires, no packstock
|Suitable for mountain bikes:
||No (no bicycles in wilderness)
|Suitable for horses:
||No (not permitted)
Highway 72 north from Nederland approximately eight miles to Ward. Turn west
on Forest Road 112 and travel about 3 miles to the entrance to the Brainard
Lake Recreation Area (there is a fee). It is another two miles to
Brainard Lake. Follow the road around the north side of the lake to the turnoff
to the Mitchell Lake parking area. Turn right to the parking area. The Mitchell
Lake Trailhead is located at the south end of the parking area.
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