Five Snowshoe Day Trips Close to Broomfield
Jan 22, 2019 08:15AM
By R. Scott Rappold
Few Colorado experiences can equal the serenity of walking through a mountain forest draped in snow.
The utter silence, broken only by the sound of your footsteps, complements the stunning alpine scenery of white-capped peaks and pine trees weighed down by powder. But try walking through this landscape in just hiking boots and you're apt to become familiar with the concept of "post-holing" – sinking in the snow with every step.
Strap into some snowshoes and a whole new world of exploring opens up. You'll float on the powder as the snowshoe disperses your weight across the snow.
And you might be surprised to learn you can find plenty of opportunities about an hour's drive from Broomfield. Here are five classic snowshoe trips.
Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
This park got 4.4 million visitors last year, making it one of Colorado's most-crowded outdoor destinations, but pay a visit in winter and solitude abounds. Much of the park is closed by deep snow, but the Bear Lake area on the park's east side remains open year-round and is a great place for beginner snowshoers to learn the sport and advance their skills. You can take the gentle .8-mile loop around Bear Lake for starters, then try some uphill on the 1.2-mile hike to Dream Lake. Pick a clear day and you'll see one of Colorado's most-photographed locations in all its winter glory.
Brainard Lake, Nederland
Another spot that swarms with people in summer but not winter, Brainard Lake is a stunning mountain lake flanked by high, snowy mountains. From Colorado Highway 72 at Ward, turn west onto the Brainard Lake Road, and drive 2.5 miles to the Brainard Gateway Trailhead. It's about 2 miles to the lake, with options for longer loops on the well-marked, snowshoe-oriented trails. There's a fee to come in warmer months by not in winter, so enjoy the free serenity.
Herman Gulch Trail, Clear Creek County
This trail is for more experienced and active snow-shoers, but the scenic rewards are worth the effort. The trail starts in Georgetown along Interstate 70 – take exit 218, turn right at the stop sign, and right again on the frontage road to the trailhead. It's about 3 steep miles to Herman Lake, a stunning alpine pond towered over by jagged peaks. You might not need snowshoes for the lower portion, but bring them anyway because you'll need them soon!
Want to try snow-shoeing above the clouds? Loveland Pass, which connects the ski areas of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin, tops out at nearly 12,000 feet, with deep snow lingering well into spring. There are some trails here, such as the short but steep route up Mount Sniktau, but many people enjoy just roaming among the tundra and soaking in the views. Avoid being above or below steep chutes as they may be avalanche-prone. Take I-70 to the exit for Loveland Ski Area and drive up the pass.
Staunton State Park
This state park is just a few miles off U.S. Highway 285 in the foothills southwest of Denver but you'll feel a world apart as you tromp through the pine forest, past jagged cliffs and frozen waterfalls. Start on the mild Staunton Ranch Trail and continue into the more remote areas if the snow quality and your energy level permit. This area isn't snow-covered all winter, so check with the park before setting out.