Blue and Mitchell Lakes
excerpts from the book
Incredible Backcountry Trails 
by David Day

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Incredible Backcountry Trails
  • access info for 120 trailheads
  • 90 colorful trail maps
  • 305 full color photographs
  • loads of hiking tips
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    Distance: 5.6 miles (round trip)

    Walking time: 3 1/2 hours
    : 950 ft. gain/loss
       Mitchell Lake Trailhead (start): 10,480 ft.
       Blue Lake: 11,310 ft.

    Trail: Popular, well maintained trail as far as Blue Lake

    Season: Midsummer through mid-fall. The trail is generally covered with snow from mid-November until mid-July.

    Vicinity: Near Boulder

    Blue and Mitchell LakesBlue and Mitchell Lakes


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    This is one of those hikes that offers a big reward for relatively little work. Blue Lake is only 2.4 miles from the Mitchell Lake Trailhead with an elevation gain of just 830 feet, yet it is one of the prettiest lakes you will see in the Front Range. It is just above timberline with the picturesque Mount Toll rising above the Continental Divide on its western side, and it is deep enough to have a cold steely blue color. As an added bonus, a 20-foot waterfall pours into the lake from the foot of Mount Toll, fed by the year-round snowfields that adorn its steep slopes.

    The trail begins as a pleasant half-hour walk through a lush green forest of conifers and pines to the southern shore of Mitchell Lake 0.9 mile away. Mitchell is a tree-lined lake, some 400 yards long and 150 yards wide, with a fine view of Mount Audubon from its eastern side. it is a favorite among fly fishermen, although the fishing regulations here are quite strict.

    Beyond Mitchell Lake the grade increases slightly as the trail climbs another 600 feet over the next 1.5 miles to Blue Lake. The route never strays far from the north side of the creek that joins the two lakes, and as you approach Blue Lake you will be treated to a number of splashing cascades below its outlet. Finally the trail reaches the lake’s rocky eastern shore for a marvelous view across the calm water of Mount Toll on its western side.

    Most people stop here, but it is worthwhile to walk another half-mile on the hiker-made trail that continues around the lake’s north side and climbs to the source of the waterfall above its western shore. The primitive trail finally ends beside a small tarn, 200 feet across, where the melt from the snowfields above collects before draining into the lake. Try to be there in the morning, when the eastern sun is shining directly on Mount Toll and its snowfields, and the water is calm enough to reflect images of the picturesque peak.

    The book includes more text, more photographs, and trail maps.

    If you are interested in a supplemental map of the Blue and Mitchell Lakes area
    we recommend:
    Indian Peaks (Trails Illustrated, map #102)

    Click here for DISCOUNTED MAP ORDERS
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