Trail Stats & Info
|RT length||8.3 miles|
|Elevation gain||2,725 feet|
|Trail Surface/Condition||rocks, boulders|
|Used for||hiking, snowshoeing|
|Lowest elevation||10,500 feet|
|Highest elevation||13,225 feet|
|Trail type||out & back|
|Trails Illustrated Map™ #||102|
|Restrooms @ TH?||yes|
From Denver, take I-70 or C-470 to Hwy 93 to Golden. Follow Hwy 93 to CO 72 (Coal Creek Road) and turn left onto Hwy 72. Follow CO 72 all the way to CO 119. Turn right onto CO 119 to Nederland. In Nederland, at the roundabout, continue onto CO 72 by taking the 4th street which is CO 72. Follow CO 72 for about 12 miles to Ward and take a left at the sign for Brainard Lake Recreation Site. Follow this road all the way to the Fee Station. Then, follow the road to Brainard Lake, which becomes a one-way road around the lake. Follow the signs for Mitchell Lake Trailhead. There is parking at the trailhead. The trailhead for Mt. Audubon starts at the Beaver Creek Trailhead, which is at the north end of the parking lot.
From Boulder, take CO 119 or Boulder Canyon Drive West to Nederland. In Nederland, take CO 72 at the roundabout, which is the 3rd street. Follow CO 72 to the town of Ward and follow the sign for Brainard Lake Recreation Site by taking a left at the sign. Follow this road all the way to the Fee Station. Then, follow the road to Brainard Lake, which becomes a one-way road around the lake. Follow the signs for Mitchell Lake Trailhead. There is parking at the trailhead. The trailhead for Mt. Audubon starts at the Beaver Creek Trailhead, which is at the north end of the parking lot.
From Idaho Springs, take I-70 West and take exit 243, Central City Parkway. Follow Central City Parkway all the way to CO 119. Take a left onto CO 119 and follow this road all they way to Nederland. In Nederland, take CO 72 at the roundabout, which is the 4rd street. Follow CO 72 to the town of Ward and follow the sign for Brainard Lake Recreation Site by taking a left at the sign. Follow this road all the way to the Fee Station. Then, follow the road to Brainard Lake, which becomes a one-way road around the lake. Follow the signs for Mitchell Lake Trailhead. There is parking at the trailhead. The trailhead for Mt. Audubon starts at the Beaver Creek Trailhead, which is at the north end of the parking lot.
***There is a $10 entrance fee to enter Brainard Lake Recreation Site (as of August 17, 2013) Click here to visit Brainaird Lake website. They only take cash or checks, no credit/debit cards. If you forget to bring cash, there is a bar/pub (Millsite Inn) just north on CO 72 from the Brainard Lake sign that will charge your credit card and give you cash. They charge you $1 for the transaction and they open at 11:00 am on most days. Or, you can go into the town of Ward (follow the sign for “Post Office”) and the Post Office (on Saturdays, open at 8:15-10:15 am) or Marrocco’s Family Dining (on Saturdays, open TILL 11:00 am) have a credit card machine to give you cash if you buy something to charge your credit card.***
A wonderful day hike up to the beautiful alpine summit of Mount Audubon (13,223 feet). Wildflowers, panoramic high alpine views, and alpine lakes make this hike well worth the effort. This is a very strenuous hike with a lot of altitude gain in a long, 4.0-mile march to the summit. There are stunning views of Pawnee Peak, Mount Toll, Paiute Peak, Sawtooth Mountain, and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. This is a very popular trail that sees a fair amount of traffic in the summer months. Your best bet to avoid the crowds would be to do the hike midweek.© Copyright Hiking Colorado’s Front Range
Published by Falcon Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Rising to an elevation of 13,233 feet, Mount Audubon is one of the more prominent summits within the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Despite its lofty stature, however, this gentle mountain pales when compared to its immediate neighbors in terms of ruggedness. Indeed, topped by a moderately difficult trail, Audubon poses little challenge to the discerning climber. On the other hand, for the hiker who is simply out to enjoy some incredible views, this peak cannot be beat. Not only does it reveal some up-close views of the surrounding mountains; it affords incredibly far-reaching vistas in all directions as well.© Copyright 100 Classic Hikes in Colorado
Published by The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
Oddly enough, in the midst of the Indian Peaks, the most familiar peak is named for an ornithologist who never saw it. Named after famed, 19th Century artist/ornithologist John James Audubon, this bulky mountain is the most easily recognizable of the Indian Peaks. But it might seem curious to honor Audubon, who never saw Colorado; and especially as his mountain lies in a part of the Front Range dedicated to the native tribes. But it acquired the name very early on, from botanist Charles Parry’s 1861 Colorado expedition, when he made the first recorded ascent of the mountain. Parry suggested names for most of the Front Range peaks that he climbed, recognizing major naturalists of his generation, including ones familiar to us now as Grays, Torreys, James, and Engelmann. In turn, Parry Peak was named for him. The trail is gradual, well-marked by cairns on the tundra and very popular in the hiking season. It’s a good family hike for kids over 10.© Copyright The Colorado Year Round Outdoor Guide
Published by Colorado Mountain Club Press. All Rights Reserved.
Brainard Lake Recreation site is an amazing area to see the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The only negative part is that you have to pay $10 to get in and it can get pretty crowded during the summer weekends and for good reason. From Brainard Lake, you can see Mt. Audubon to the right and at the center, the very steep peak is Mt. Toll. The peak to the left is Pawnee Peak. If you want to be able to park at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead parking lot, you need to get there early. That parking lot and parking along the road gets full quickly. The other options are parking by Brainard Lake, which requires about a 1/2 mile of hiking to the trailhead.
The trail starts at the Beaver Creek Trailhead at the north end of the parking lot. The first third of the trail is mainly in the trees and ascends very gradually. At this time of year, we saw several types of wildflowers blooming, including Indian Paintbrush and Columbines. As you get to treeline, it gets a little bit steeper, but not by that much and you can see Brainard Lake and Mitchell Lake below. About 2/3rds of the trail is or at above treeline, where you can enjoy great open views of the Front Range. This part of the trail consist mainly of small and medium-sized rocks. At about 2 miles, you’ll reach a sign that indicates the way for the Mt. Audubon trail or Beaver Creek trail. Follow the arrow for Mt. Audubon, which is the trail that heads left. From here, the trail continues gradually up a few switchbacks to what looks like a saddle. At the saddle, the trail turns about 90 degrees to the left and this is the last part of the ascent up to the summit of Mt. Audubon. This section of the trail is the steepest and rockiest. There are several cairns to mark the trail, but we ended up veering off the trail a few times as the trail is not very clear.
At the summit there are several rock shelters to get out of the wind. From here you can see breathtaking views of the Indian Peaks, including Sawtooth Mtn., Paiute Peak, Mt. Toll, Pawnee Peak, Shoshoni Peak, Apache Peak, Navajo Peak, Kiowa Peak and Mt. Albion. On a clear day, you can also see Grays and Torreys Peak, Longs Peak, and Mt. Evans. We started this hike later in the day and as a result, storm clouds started to roll in and we saw lightening pretty close to us when we were on the summit. We only had a few minutes to take some photos, then we hurriedly headed back down. It started to hail and we heard thunder all around us. There was definitely electricity buzzing in the air because we could hear it and when Jake handed me the GPS unit we got “shocked” as I touched the unit. It was very scary, but we were fortunate that nothing happened to us and the storm dissipated shortly thereafter. So, lesson learned: start your hike early and try to be off the mountain or beneath treeline by noon. Also, this area has a lot of wildlife, as we saw many marmots above treeline and the ranger had told us that they have many sightings of deer, moose and mountain lions.