Lake Isabelle is a stunning Colorado subalpine lake located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Hikers begin at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (directions, parking, and permit information below), where there are dozens of fantastic day hike options for all ability levels. Here, we will cover everything you need to know to hike to Lake Isabelle as well as the stunning Long Lake
Distance – 4.46 miles round trip (7.18 km)
Height – 10,919 feet (3328.11 m)
Elevation gain – 751 feet (228.91 meters)
Duration – 3-4 hours
Difficulty – Easy / Intermediate
Class: Class 2 Hike
Trailhead Location – Long Lake Trailhead (10,548 feet)
Need To Know Information
- The Brainard Lake Area now operates with a permit system. Overnight and day parking is available. The ideal parking lot is the long lake trailhead, but if this is full, hikers can choose other options that will add a bit of distance to the hike along the roads or along the trails. Permits are purchased here: https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10087515. If the only available parking is at the Brainard Lake Picnic Site/Trailhead, then hikers will need to add 1 mile each way, and about 200 feet of elevation gain to their hike totals.
- Prices: 1 day car = $12
- Timed tickets will be continually released on a 14-day rolling window. You must arrive on the entry date, at the entry time, and park in the parking lot indicated on your timed ticket.
- Winter season has parking lot closures, which would mean hikers need to park at the Brainard Lake Area Winter Trailhead. (More information below)
- Dogs are allowed on leash.
Hiking Route Options
There is only one common route to Lake Isabelle by leaving from the Long Lake Trailhead. Due to reservations and winter, hikers may need to start from another trailhead and hike along the roads, or on the trails to the Long Lake Trailhead.
Long Lake Trailhead | 4.46 Miles Round Trip (7.18 km) – 751 Feet Elevation Gain (228.91 meters) | Class 2
Hikers begin at the Long Lake Trailhead along a well traveled and well marked trail. The hike is a gradual incline and only 0.25 miles before reaching Long Lake. At Long Lake, the views are stunning, the river contains fish, and hikers have the option to cross the river to do a loop around the south side of Long Lake if they choose. The most direct route is to stay on the trail to the north side of Long Lake.
Along Long Lake, there are tons of great areas to snack, fish, or enjoy the views. Hiking remains relatively level until about 1.7 miles into the hike where the trail begins to steepend while it ascends to Lake Isabelle. Hikers will reach views of Lake Isabelle just about at the same point where they see the junction to Pawnee Pass. From here, hikers can continue past the lake, or just enjoy a particular spot on the side of the lake. Hikers simply retrace steps to head back to the trailhead.
Hiking Lake Isabelle In Winter
This hike is accessible in winter, but traction should be brought due to icy conditions. It should also be noted that in winter, the road to Brainard Lake closes, which means that hikers need to park at the Brainard Lake Winter Trailhead. It is 2.2 miles from the winter trailhead to Brainard Lake, and 3.05 miles to the Long Lake Trailhead. Hikers need to be prepared to add 6 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain round trip to their hike in winter months when the road to Brainard Lake is closed.
Camping For Lake Isabelle
Brainard Lake Recreation Area has a few campgrounds to choose from. Campsites need to be reserved here: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232282.
Additional information can be found here.
Fishing Lake Isabelle & Long Lake
Catch and release fishing is allowed on these lakes and the streams between the lakes. The fishing is quite good, and this is a great areas to hike and bring your fishing rod with you.
Current Weather Conditions:
Here is the detailed weather forecast for the next few days. We highly recommend you check out the mountain forecast for this area the morning of your hike.
A chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow before 5pm, then blowing snow and snow showers likely. Mostly cloudy. High near 28, with temperatures falling to around 22 in the afternoon. West wind 22 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 44 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Blowing snow and snow showers likely before 7pm, then snow showers and areas of blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 12. Wind chill values as low as -3. West wind 15 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 41 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow showers. Mostly cloudy. High near 18, with temperatures falling to around 15 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -4. West wind 14 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
A chance of snow showers before 7pm, then a chance of snow showers and patchy blowing snow between 7pm and 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7. Wind chill values as low as -12. West wind 17 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 17. West wind 25 to 31 mph, with gusts as high as 43 mph.
Mostly clear, with a low around 7.
Sunny, with a high near 25.
Directions & Parking
When reservations are required to enter Brainard Lake,
Directions to Long Lake Trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about