Nederland & Brainard Lake Trip Details
Destination: Nederland + Brainard Lake Recreation Area
Closest Town: Nederland (Ned) or Boulder
About: Located just 17 miles west of Boulder, Nederland is an old trading and mining town. Ned, is the perfect jumping off point to the Indian Peak Wilderness, Rosevelt National Forrest and James Peak Wilderness.
Route: US-36 W and CO-119/Boulder Canyon Dr
Distance: 45 Miles
Time: 1h 5m (Depending on Boulder traffic)
Trip Length: Day trip or overnight
Season: Summer, Fall, Winter
Sleeping: Dispersed Camping on County Road 132-W at designated campsites
Hike: Lake Isabelle via Pawnee Pass Trail
Length: 4.5 miles one way
Fee: 10$ per vehicle
Dogs: On leash
I was recommended the Lake Isabelle trail from a friend and after googling photos, we were dying to try it out. The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is located outside Boulder just north of Nederland. The area is very popular on the weekends, so it’s recommended to arrive bright and early to snag a parking spot in the park. We decided to beat the crowds and make it weekend trip by camping in Nederland the night before our hike.
“Ned” is a solid 30 min drive from Boulder, down the windy, but beautiful Boulder Creek Drive. Founded in 1874 on the Barker Meadow Reservoir, the town is a perfect jumping off point to some of the state’s best hiking. Despite being a fairly small town, Nederland has some top-notch restaurants that alone are worth the drive.
Camping – There are about 15 designated yet dispersed campsites just south of town past the Sun Lodge on CR 132-W. From Downtown Denver to Ned on a Friday afternoon took us just over an hour which gave us enough sunlight to set up camp. There is not much cover in the area so if your plan on hanging out there during the day will you want a pop-up. See my must-have camping gear here.