Mt. Audubon

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Trail Stats & Info

RT length 8.3 miles
Elevation gain 2,725 feet
Difficulty moderate
Lowest elevation 10,500 feet
Highest elevation 13,225 feet
Trail type out & back
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 102
Restrooms @ TH? yes
Mt. Audubon
Mt. Audubon

Directions

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 Mt. Audubon Trail Headleft 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.***

Mt. Audubon


Photos

Description

Mt. AudubonBrainard 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.

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About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"