Columns » Hiking Bob

Mitchell and Blue Lakes road trip hike; Rainbow Falls reopening delayed; and Lake Moraine and Dixon Trail news


  • Bob Falcone
Located off the iconic Peak to Peak Highway (Colorado Highway 72), north of the funky town of Nederland, the U.S. Forest Service's Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a popular destination for hikers, anglers, cyclists, climbers, campers and picnicking families. There are a number of lakes and reservoirs in the area including Mitchell and Blue Lakes, the hike to which is likely the most scenic.

An easy/moderate hike of under 6 miles round trip, the views of Mitchell Lake and Blue Lake — with a few small unnamed lakes along the way — are beautiful and offer great photo opportunities. During hike there earlier this week, I even encountered an adult and juvenile moose, just feet from the trail. (Never fear...we stayed a respectful distance away, took a bunch of pictures and they eventually crossed the trail and continued on their way.)
How to get there: There are a few ways to get to the Peak-to-Peak Highway from Colorado Springs, so consult your favorite navigation app. Brainard Lake Road is about 9 miles north of Nederland, just outside the town of Ward. Take Brainard Lake Road as far west as you can go, following the signs for Mitchell Lake. The parking lot there is fairly large, but this trail is popular and the lot can fill up on weekends. Entrance fees do apply in the recreation area during most of the year, but holders of Interagency Annual, Military, Senior or Access passes, Golden Age and Golden Access passes do not have to pay additional entry fees. Dogs must be leashed on all trails.

Outdoors and trail news

  • The Rainbow Falls Historical Site re-opening has been delayed "due to an unanticipated construction delay," according to El Paso County Community Services Director Tim Wolken. The site is now scheduled to open on September 8th from 10am to 4pm, and will remain open on weekends from 10am to 4pm through October 28.
  • The Lake Moraine Trail, connecting Barr Trail to Jones Park will officially open on August 31, confirms Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates President Cory Sutela.
  • Despite headlines elsewhere that the Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park is "finished" the trail is still not open to the public, according to CMSP manager Mitch Martin. Martin says that the trail should soft open in September, with a grand opening in October, but no exact dates have been set. Follow the CMSP website for updates.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website ( E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob:

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