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A beautiful out-and-back hike to Isabelle Glacier.

Liz

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Map Key

8.3

Miles

13.3

KM

Out and Back

11,905' 3,629 m

High

10,525' 3,208 m

Low

1,549' 472 m

Up

1,550' 472 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

39%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Family Friendly The route isn't too difficult until the last climb up to the glacier.

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.

Overview

Past lakes, rivers, and ending at a glacier, this hike is an all-around epic day out. The parking is crowded most of the year, but if you can snag a permitted entry, this hike is well worth the effort. This is a great place to see wildflowers and fall colors, depending on the time of year.

Need to Know

Parking reservations are required in spring through autumn. recreation.gov/timed-entry/…

Description

From the Long Lake trailhead, head out on Pawnee Pass Trail past Long Lake. The trail is generally mellow grade for the first couple of miles. There is a little bit of a climb as you reach Lake Isabelle, but it levels out as you travel along the shore.

Head up past the shoreline and up the rocky alpine meadow. There is a small tarn below the final push to the glacier. It might be pretty strenuous getting up there, but hiking by what is left of this small glacier is a really cool experience. From here, you can head back the way you came.

However, if you are ready for a bit more adventure, take Airplane Gully Route to reach the ridge and have some more views. This is the only reasonable passage to ascend to Niwot Ridge. The gully is a steep 500 feet of loose rock and scree. After picking your way up this gully, you are rewarded with the wreckage of a small plane—the debris is all over the place. Soon after, you finally arrive at the ridge crest of Niwot Ridge, and you get a good view of Arikaree Peak, nestled within the state property of the Boulder Watershed.

Contacts

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Liz

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  5.0 from 1 vote

#2215

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#354

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Photos

Isabelle Lake surrounded by the Indian Peaks - stunning.
Nov 7, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Climbing boulders before climbing the peaks.
Nov 7, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Lake Isabelle lies hidden in a high, isolated bowl-shaped basin at the top of the South St. Vrain drainage in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.
Feb 8, 2022 near Nederland, CO
Lake Isabelle
Aug 8, 2020 near Nederland, CO
A view of beautiful Lake Isabelle
Aug 29, 2017 near Nederland, CO
South Saint Vrain Creek flows from Long Lake
Aug 29, 2017 near Nederland, CO

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