First snowshoe of the season in Indian Peaks area
Last year, 19 inches of snow fell on Boulder in late October, and my first snowshoe walk of the 2009-2010 season was in Rocky Mountain National Park. This year, the Front Range has been bone-dry (just 1½ inches of snow so far). The Colorado Rockies west of the Continental Divide have been buried in snow from after storm, and the last couple have actually brought significant accumulations on the east side of the Divide — not in Denver or Boulder, but in the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park.
My neighbor, Jim, had already been our eight times this year, mostly in previous 10 days, and I joined him yesterday. We drove up to the trailhead at the winter closure of the Brainard Lake Road, up in the mountains west of Boulder. Federal stimulus money is being used to construct a parking lot, an imposing building with restrooms and perhaps more, which will improve the creature comforts for users of a wonderful winter trail system within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area but outside of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The the sun was bright and the snow was white, though in some of these images, it looks as blue as the sky. And best of all, there was no wind.
This network includes combined Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails, skier-only, skier-preferred and snowshoer-preferred, but only the Brainard Lake Road itself is open to all non-motorized winter recreation and also to dogs, which are prohibited on all other trails between December 15 and April 15.
Because of this multi-use, I actually think snowshoes are a better than skis on the chopped-up snow. We simply headed up the unplowed road covered with enough snow so that no pavement showed through.
This is an out-and-back route. From the trailhead to Brainard Lake is about 1¼ miles.