Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

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pmccumber
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Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby pmccumber » Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:36 pm

Are the lots open yet? I was up there a couple weeks ago and it was brutal. I plan on getting there before 7a.

Thanks ...
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:05 pm

I was there earlier this week and the Mitchell Lakes lot was open, not sure about the other one.

They are still doing work on the Brainard day-use parking area, so that parking is along the road.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby Danny504 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:08 pm

According to the USDA site both Long and Mitchell Lake roads are now open.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5339508
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby peter303 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:40 pm

Good luck finding a space after 7AM on a summer weekend!
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby yetibreath » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:30 pm

The Long Lake and Mitchel Lake parking lots are open. When those lots are full, you must use the day use lot at the east end of Brainard Lake. That lot has 160 spaces and is complete (not under construction). Some folks are parking along the road, but that is not allowed. "No Parking" signs and possibly large rocks will soon appear along the road to emphasize that parking is not allowed there. An early start is a good idea. The Long Lake lot was full by 08:30 on Thursday and it will fill much earlier on weekends. Good luck!
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby pmccumber » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:44 am

The previous post was pretty clear but I'm going to reiterate. Remember how you could park between Mitchell and Long lake trailheads? The point is, pretty much any of the parking along the road including the hundreds that used to park along the loop around Brainard is no more. You park in designated spots now. So, if you're not there earlier enough to snag a spot at the trailhead, you fall back to the picnic parking, and then fall back to some spots at the entrance to the lake itself near the old entrance to the campground, and the last resort is two miles back at the big lot where you pay to get in. The good news is there is about 1/4 the people now on the trails.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby pmccumber » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:46 am

On Sunday we were at the Long Lake trailhead at 6:40a and it was full. Mitchell is much bigger and had lots of room.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby JeffR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:37 pm

There also are (were?) designated spaces on the west side of Brainard Lake. (Maybe these are the picnic spaces already mentioned?)
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby yetibreath » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Good point about the Mitchel Lake parking lot. If you want to hike from the Long Lake trailhead but arrive at the lot just after it fills, don't go directly to the day use parking lot east of Brainard. Try the Mitchel Lake lot first. It is twice as large as the Long Lake lot and takes longer to fill. The Mitchel Lake parking lot is closer to the Long Lake trailhead than the day use parking lot. Also, concerning picnic area parking. The picnic area parking near the Niwot Cutoff trailhead is open to anyone (hikers or picnickers). All other picnic areas are closed to vehicles.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby Jeff Valliere » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:47 am

A few thoughts and observations from 2 trips there this weekend:

As noted above, some big changes at Brainard since I was there last (2 or 3 years?).

We were up there on Friday, August 2nd and did not arrive until ~10:30am and there was an official truck parked at the half closed gate on the East side of Brainard lake. I had read this thread and was aware of the changes, so I was not too surprised, but asked the guy in the truck if I could proceed to drop off my wife, dog and almost 3 year old twin daughters, which he graciously obliged. When we pulled up to the Long Lake TH, the older woman who manages the lot was very willing to reserve us the next spot that opened up. We only waited about 5 minutes until this happened (more likely in the middle of the day as turnover is greater) and we ended up in about the closest spot possible. I was prepared to just drop them off, park in the large lot on the East side of the lake and run back, but it sure was nice to not have to do that.

Since the pass is good for 3 days (this number keeps dropping as the price keeps rising, entrance for passenger cars is now $10), I went up again this morning for a run of Mt. Audubon from the Mitchell Lake TH. I arrived around 6:15am and there were only a handful of cars in the lot, but when I finished at 8:00am, the lot was completely full and there was a kid in a neon vest with a clipboard systematically walking around the lot checking tags (have seen this at every lot during my recent trips, they have seriously upped their enforcement).

One thing I would not mind seeing in the future is perhaps reserving the lots at the trailheads for special needs (at least on the weekends for families, elderly, etc...). It was extremely helpful to be able to park close to the trail when considering the needs of little kids and not having to leave my wife with two toddlers and a dog while I found a place to park and ran back.

I have used my bike to access the Long/Mitchell Lake trailheads in the past (either being cheap, biking there from home, or the gate was closed), but with all the new changes, I will be more inclined to park outside the pay station, pay my $1 to bike in and lock my bike to a tree at the trailhead. Saves a bit of $, biking that road is fun, eliminates the headache of parking and relieves congestion.

Oh, the moose population up there is booming, we saw 3 HUGE bull moose on Friday and I saw 3 more this morning right next to Brainard Lake. Awesome.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby CarpeDM » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:38 pm

I was also up there a couple of weeks ago for the first time in probably a couple of years. One thing to add: I was told that they still accept national parks passes, which is confirmed on the official Brainard Lake webpage in the "Fees" table. Also, see the National Park Service page for details on each of those passes.
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Re: Brainard - Mitchell/Long Lots

Postby chrismjx » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:47 pm

I was there yesterday and it seemed like all the parking lots were open. $10 fee rather than the $9 I was expecting though...

FYI: Lake Isabelle has very little water in it right now. We could see the drain yesterday.

Moose are all over the place too! We saw 3 in different locations throughout the day.

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