Indian Peaks Wilderness

Isabelle Glacier in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

The backdrop for the town of Nederland is the scenic Indian Peaks Wilderness, part of Roosevelt-Arapaho National Forest.  Established in 1978, the Indian Peaks Wildernesss  preserves the scenery and wilderness of subalpine forest and alpine tundra.

Adjacent to the southern boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park,  its name comes from the many peaks contained with its border named after Indian Tribes.  The Indian Peaks encompasses soaring peaks of 13,000 feet, trails along the Continental Divide, and numerous lakes, including Brainard Lake.

It offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation during summer and winter.  In summer, over 130 miles of trails through the wilderness are open for hiking and horseback riding.  In winter, the abundant snowfall offers ample opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  Some areas of the wilderness rival Rocky Mountain National Park for alpine scenery.

The IPW is more than 76,000 acres and hosts several campgrounds, picnic areas and miles of hiking trails.  The best time to visit for hiking is July – October.  Trail heads such as the Hessie Trailhead and Brainard Lake can be very busy during the summer months, especially on the weekends.  Either plan on starting early before 8 a.m. or consider taking the Hessie Shuttle from the Nederland Park and Ride.

Note:  Brainard Lake Recreation Area access road will be closed through June 28 in 2018 for badly needed road construction.  During that time, the only access to the recreation area will be on foot via hiking trails, like the Sourdough Trail.   

For more information, please contact the Boulder Ranger District, 303-541-2500.

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