Pawnee Pass Trail is magnificent!
Brainard Lake Recreation Area fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid/late-June through late September) Passenger vehicle, RV – $11 for a 3-day pass.
The Indian Peaks Wilderness is 76,586 acres and lies adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park’s southern boundary.
Pawnee Pass Trail
- Length: 9.2 miles RT
- Elev gain: 2130 ft.
- Rating: Strenuous
- Hiking Time: min. 4 1/2 hrs
The trail travels along Long Lake and Lake Isabelle, rising about 400 ft in 2.1 miles, to reach a trail junction with the Isabelle Glacier Trail. The vicinity is simply gorgeous with the incredible backdrop of the Navajo, Apache, and Shoshoni peaks, Isabelle Glacier and the abundant summer wildflowers.
The Pawnee Pass Trail rises quickly above Lake Isabelle on switchbacks, along tumbling streams and ponds, through and above treeline. About a mile past and 900 ft above the junction, it reaches a tundra bench overlooking the Lake Isabelle valley with spectacular views of the nearby impressive peaks.
The trail leaves the bench and climbs up a steep series of rocky switchbacks to the top of the ridgeline, climbing about 700 ft in just over a mile. A 1/4 mile walk through the tundra leads to Pawnee Pass and the Continental Divide at 12,541 ft.
The view to the west from the pass is practically indescribable; jagged, needle-like spires and Pawnee Lake 1600 ft below you; Monarch Lake (10 miles by the trail beyond the pass) in the foreground; and what seems like the rest of the state in the background!