travel

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A Spontaneous Adventure to Brainard Lake

By: Tom Malone

Rocky Mountains, Brainard Lake, Mountain, Hiking

One Sunday morning, some members of The Adventure Tribune crew decided to take a spontaneous journey into the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We sought water to escape the 95-degree Denver heat, so we searched “Rocky Mountain lakes near me” on Google, which led to the directions to Brainard Lake.

We jumped in a Subaru and drove through Boulder and turned left on a nicely paved road. The pavement quickly turned to gravel, which narrowed to a collapsed, one-lane road that edged a river.

After passing the town of Ward, Colo. (with its 9,450-foot elevation), we continued to escalate until we reached a parking lot nestled in the Roosevelt National Forest. We checked the trail map located at the entrance of the trailhead and decided to take the scenic route to the first lake on the path.

I threw on my Columbia daypack and we entered a forest that resembled the Lake Tahoe surrounding area. After a mile stroll, we came to a swampy meadow that required us to balance on boards in order to continue our journey. Then, we came to a wooden bridge that suspended over a crystal-clear, rushing stream.

After ascending another hill, we eventually popped out of the forest and saw the still waters of Brainard Lake; the Rocky Mountains stood proudly in the backdrop.

As we took an adventure around the lake, we encountered a few people with fishing poles (we even saw a man catch what appeared to be a 12-inch trout). We saw through-hikers who planned to continue their adventure on to Long Lake and the sequential mountain lakes that lined the 10-plus-mile-long trail. Campers and picnickers scattered throughout the forest as they enjoyed the coolness of the 10,000-foot mountain air.

We did not look at our phones throughout the entire duration of the trip for two reasons: we were in nature and the area received little-to-no service (thankfully). On our descent, we stopped in Boulder to sip on a celebratory Thai Style White IPA at Upslope Brewing.

Overall, the adventure to Brainard Lake inspired us to plan a return trip in which we will explore the mountain lakes that sit along the extensive trail system. If you’ve explored other lakes in Roosevelt National Forest, let us know which ones we should travel to on our next adventure.

*Photo By: Tom Malone
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