Winter Activities at Brainard Lake

View from below Lefthand Reservoir

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is one of the most beautiful spots in the Front Range. Nestled between Nederland and Ward, Brainard Lake is just 45 minutes up the mountains from Boulder. To complement summer hiking, fishing, backpacking, and cycling, this area offers incredible winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and picnicking. 

From about November to May, the Brainard Lake Road is closed beyond the entrance station. This road turns into an excellent start for any skiing, snowshoeing, or picnic adventure. From the entrance station, you have three route options: stay on the road, veer left onto Lefthand Park Reservoir Road, or turn right onto the Sourdough Trail. 

Heading straight on Brainard Lake Road offers adventurers a relatively flat path, perfect for learning to cross country ski or snowshoe. Red Rock Lake is the first destination on this path, just ½ mile beyond the entrance station. From here, users can follow the road another 1.5 miles to Brainard Lake.

Those looking for some elevation gain may opt to follow Lefthand Park Reservoir Road to Lefthand Park Reservoir for beautiful views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This winter trail climbs 600 feet over the course of 1.8 miles to the reservoir.

For people who enjoy the solitude of snowy singletrack, Sourdough Trail offers miles and miles of pristine winter wilderness. This trail connects to South Saint Vrain and Waldrop trails for a long, scenic route to Brainard Lake.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Avalanche Beacon Training

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Avalanche Beacon Training

Back country exploration and camping is very common in Rocky Mountain National Park. With that in mind, the rangers have created a place to safely educate everyone on avalanche beacons! Knowing how to use an properly can save your life, as well as someone else's...

The park is open 24/7 for back country enthusiasts to further hone their skills, but make sure you and your party are prepared; there are no rangers there. It was intended to provide people who already own and know how to use avalanche beacons a place for gain more field experience.

"They can go up there they can flip on a switch and turn on one to eight different transceivers in order to practice those skills in recovery and finding those people who are buried."

- Mike Lukens, a climbing ranger with RMNP

You won't have time to think about what you're doing if you're ever in the back country and yourself or someone you're with is buried in snow. Ideally, you'll go into auto pilot and your brain will kick in, drawing from your practice, in an efficient manner. After all, you only have about 15 minutes to get someone safely out of snowpack. Time is truly of the essence in this sort of situation!