From the well-signed trailhead, hike northwest on Mount Audubon Trail. The first stretch is easy going as the path climbs gently through fragrant evergreens and passes a golden meadow with intermittent views of the Indian Peaks. At mile 1.3, cross a small boulder field dotted with stunted spruce before heading above treeline.
Pikas squeak and scurry across rocks as you climb through alpine meadows and cross another rocky landslide. On cloud-free days, Longs Peak (the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park) dominates the northern skyline from a grassy saddle at mile 3.4. The final 0.3-mile stretch slows down the pace and ascends talus slopes to Mount Audubon. Pull out the camera and capture stunning views from Lake Granby to Winter Park to Rocky Mountain National Park before retracing your route back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips and Matt Vellone
TO TRAILHEAD: From Ward, CO, head northeast on CO 72/Peak to Peak Hwy. In 500 feet, turn left onto NF 112/Brainard Lake Rd. (closed seasonally). In 5.1 miles, turn left to stay on Brainard Lake Rd. In 380 feet, turn right onto side road. In 0.1 mile, turn left. Follow 0.3 mile to small parking area.
Distance: 3.78 mi
Total Time: none
Speed: 0.0 mph
Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none
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Points of Interest
Location: 40.083763, -105.581100
Follow Mount Audubon Trail, a wide, dirt path that travels northwest through shady conifers.
Location: 40.086708, -105.585640
Easy-going trail gently climbs to the north.
Location: 40.090500, -105.587326
Pass a golden meadow rimmed by conifers on the right; the Indian Peaks rise dramatically in the background. In .1 mile, the trail switchbacks to the left; gaps in trees reveal views of Brainard Lake to the south; look for white-tailed ptarmigans near the trail.
Location: 40.092995, -105.583580
The trail rounds to the north and crosses a small boulder field dotted with stunted conifers.
Location: 40.095398, -105.584450
Pass through treeline, and begin traveling up expansive slopes. In 450 feet, pass a skinny wooden post stuck in a rock cairn.
Location: 40.097973, -105.586159
A large cairn blocks the path. In 100 yards, keep left @ Y-junction; Beaver Creek Trail diverges on the right. Climb continues ahead.
Location: 40.099983, -105.587990
Look to the right across alpine meadows for a dramatic skyline dominated by Longs Peak's distinct summit ridge.
Location: 40.102707, -105.597672
Follow narrow path across a small boulder field; four switchbacks ahead.
Location: 40.102169, -105.607193
Navigate a rock-strewn path. Look behind you to the east for views of Boulder's Flatirons and the eastern plains; pikas squeak and scurry across rocks surrounding trail.
Location: 40.102753, -105.611275
Longs Peak comes into view again, rising behind open, grassy slopes. In 650 feet, you'll crest a grassy saddle.
Location: 40.102978, -105.613693
Start the final .3-mile summit climb up talus-covered slopes; cairns mark this off-trail route. A small, rounded rock wall can be found 350 feet to the northwest on the saddle—a perfect place to take shelter from the howling winds. Look down rocky slopes to find 2 small lakes.
Location: 40.099197, -105.616264
Mount Audubon (13,223 ft.): Rock shelters dot this long, rock-strewn summit. Views stretch across the Indian Peaks to Lake Granby, Winter Park, the Gore Range, and Longs Peak. Follow same route back to the trailhead.
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