South Saint Vrain Trail

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South Saint Vrain Trail # 909

From County Road 96, the South Vrain Trail climbs west along South Saint Vrain Creek. In about two miles, the trail follows an old road, then turns off to the right (north) and climbs to avoid private property. At the top of this climb, the trail crosses an old road with signs to the Stapp Lakes. The Stapp Lakes are on private property with no public access.

At 3.1 miles, South Saint Vrain Trail crosses the Sourdough Trail. The trail continues gently along a little ridge for another mile to an intersection with the Waldrop Trail. The trail drops down and crosses a creek before the Brainard Lake Cutoff Trail forks left (south). The South Saint Vrain Trail crosses a meadow to reach the Mitchell Lake Trailhead spur road north of Brainard Lake.

Usage: Light
Best Season: June through October
Restrictions:
  • Prohibited: Motorized use, pack animals (horses/llamas); recreational shooting (except for legal hunting) and being on trails posted as closed.
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Summer Season (May 1 – Nov 14): Dogs must be on a hand-held leash at all times; dispersed camping is prohibited. When open, camping is only allowed within Pawnee Campground (no camping is permitted in closed campgrounds).
  • Brainard Lake Recreation Area Winter Season (Nov 15 – Apr 30): Motorized vehicles are prohibited; dogs allowed only on the Brainard Lake and Lefthand Park Reservoir Roads; camping is prohibited within 1/4 mile of developed recreation sites except Red Rock Lake.
  • Fishing and Hunting: Permitted in accordance with regulations established by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Ward, Colorado
Water: South Saint Vrain Creek; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301

Directions:

From Ward, drive 2.6 miles north on Colorado Highway 72 to County Road 96 (look for the Boy Scout Camp sign). The east end of the South Saint Vrain Trail is just across the bridge, close to Highway 72.

Mountain Biking

The South Saint Vrain Trail runs generally east-to-west along the South Saint Vrain Creek. It can be accessed from South Saint Vrain Trailhead or Red Rock Trailhead, and can be combined with segments of the Sourdough, Waldrop or CMC trails for loop opportunities.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Day Hiking and Backpacking

This trail follows the South Saint Vrain Creek at a fairly gentle grade for nearly six miles. It traverses aspen groves, meadows and pine forest as it climbs west toward Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

Fire Information  Unless seasonal restrictions are in effect, campfires must be attended at all times and cold to the touch with the bare hand before being abandoned. Collection of dead and down wood is allowed; do not break branches from standing trees for firewood.
Elevation desc The trail gains 1,600 feet over 5.9 miles.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

County Road 96 Trailhead to: Sourdough Trail – 3.1 miles; Brainard Lake – 5.9 miles. (One-way)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trail Use: Moderate
Length: Beaver Reservoir Road (County Road [CR] 96) Trailhead (TH) to the Sourdough Trail – 3.1 miles; to Brainard Lake – 5.9 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY.
Elevation: 8,700 feet at the TH; 9,600 feet at Sourdough Trail; 10,400 feet at Brainard Lake.
Open To: Hiking

Access
East End TH

  • From Nederland, drive 13 miles north on Colorado Highway (CO) 72 to Ward. Continue north 2.5 miles and turn west onto CR 96 (look for the Boy Scout Camp sign).
  • The east end of the South Saint Vrain Trail is just across the bridge, very close to CO 72.

West End TH

  • The west end of the South St Vrain Trail is north of Brainard Lake.
  • From Nederland, drive 13 miles north on CO 72 to the town of Ward.
  • Look for a sign for the Brainard Lake Recreation Area and turn west onto CR 102.
  • Travel to the fee station and past Brainard Lake. A signed side-road leads to the Mitchell Lake TH parking area. The South Saint Vrain begins before this lot at a pull off to the east.

Trail Highlights

  • From CR 96, the South Vrain Trail #909 climbs west along South Saint Vrain Creek.
  • About two miles in, the trail follows an old road. At the small trail sign, it turns off sharply to the north and climbs to avoid private property. At the top of this climb, the trail crosses an old road.
  • The South Saint Vrain Trail passes a cut-off to the Sourdough Trail on the north. In another quarter mile, the Sourdough Trail comes in from the south. The trail continues gently along a little ridge for another mile to an intersection with the Waldrop North Ski Trail. The trail drops down and crosses a creek before the Brainard Lake Cutoff Trail forks left (south).
  • The South Saint Vrain Trail crosses a meadow to reach the road. It hits the Mitchell Lake TH spur road off the Brainard Lake Road on the north edge along Mitchell Creek.
  • This last portion of trail is mainly used in the winter, making the trail difficult to follow.

Important Information

  • CAMPING IS NOT PERMISSIBLE ALONG SOME PORTIONS OF THIS TRAIL DURING CERTAIN TIMES OF YEAR. Watch for postings and have maps of the area available.
  • The Brainard Lake Road is open seasonally. During these months, a vehicle fee applies for trailheads located within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.

Stats

  • Trail Measurement: 3.1 to 5.9 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 400530N
  • Compass Longitude: 1053155W
  • Numeric Latitude: 40.0916527
  • Numeric Longitude: -105.5319436
  • Elevation in Meters: 2,652 to 3,170
  • Elevation in Feet: 8,700 to 10,400

If you have information about this trail please fill out the Add/Edit Trail form.

References

  • Trail Location
  • Trail Measurement
    3.1 to 5.9 Miles
  • Compass Latitude
    400530N
  • Compass Longitude
    1053155W
  • Numeric Latitude
    40.0916527
  • Numeric Longitude
    -105.5319436
  • Elevation in Feet
    8,700 to 10,400
  • Elevation in Meters
    2,652 to 3,170
  • Trail Images
  • Trail Maps
  • Trail GPS Files
    • Trail Weather

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