Beaver Creek Trail (Coney Flats to Brainard Lake), Beaver Creek Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado
Beaver Creek Trail (Coney Flats to Brainard Lake) - 10.1 miles
Beaver Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,820' - 10,508' (11,375' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+688' net elevation gain (+2,482' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Beaver Creek Trail (Coney Flats to Brainard Lake) - 10.1 Miles Round-Trip
The Beaver Creek Trail scales the massive east shoulder of Mt Audubon (13,223') to connect Coney Flats with the Brainard Lake Recreation Area in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
This strenuous north-south passage touches 4 distinct ecotones: the marshes of Coney Flats, upper montane forest, subalpine forest, and alpine tundra.
Such diversity attracts a range of wildlife including moose, bear, mountain lion, deer, elk, grouse, ptarmigan, marmot, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
While few may find cause to hike the trail as an out and back (many climb to its apex and return the way they came), those who do will enjoy varied terrain and exceptional views throughout:
Coney Flats is a broad expanse separating Mt Audubon (south) and St Vrain Mountain (north). Coney Creek fans out through the flat, creating marsh-like conditions in a diminutive forest.
The Beaver Creek Trail rises quickly over Coney Flats with excellent views of St Vrain Mountain. It crosses a small stream (1.3 miles : 10,143') and steepens to a break in the timber revealing Mt Audubon's east ridge (1.8 miles : 10,385').
You'll clear treeline and follow large cairns into open tundra at 2.2 miles. The trail climbs steeply to the ridge top (3.28 miles : 11,366') and eases to the Beaver Creek Trail - Mt Audubon Trail split.
Enjoy panoramas across Longs Peak (14,259'), Mt Meeker (13,911') and the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park from this point. Keep left on the Beaver Creek Trail for a fast 1.7 mile descent to its southern terminus.
The trail drops steeply through open tundra until the forest reconstitutes at 3.7 miles (11,238'), past which tracvel moderates on switchbacks that lead to good views of Mitchell Lake, Little Pawnee Peak (12,466') and Mt Toll (12,979').
Switchbacks deposit you in a tall spruce forest against the south flank of Mt Audubon (4.35 miles : 10,856'); from here it's a mild .7 mile jaunt to the Beaver Creek - Mt Audubon Trailhead in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area (5.05 miles : 10,508').
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N40 07.781 W105 34.464 — Beaver Creek Trailhead (Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area)
- N40 07.579 W105 34.261 — .5 miles : Trail levels momentarily
- N40 07.002 W105 34.360 — 1.3 miles : Minor stream crossing
- N40 06.564 W105 34.610 — 1.95 miles : Gradual transition through and above treeli
- N40 06.375 W105 34.865 — 2.45 mile mark
- N40 06.209 W105 35.129 — 3.0 mile mark
- N40 05.967 W105 35.123 — 3.28 miles : Crest Mt Audubon ridgeline
- N40 05.915 W105 35.184 — 3.35 miles : Mt Audubon - Beaver Creek Trail junction
- N40 05.734 W105 35.071 — 3.65 miles : Begin descent through treeline
- N40 05.469 W105 35.207 — 4.05 miles : Down switchbacks with view of Mitchell Lake
- N40 05.428 W105 35.231 — 4.3 miles : End switchbacks at base of Mt Audubon
- N40 05.190 W105 34.951 — 4.8 miles : Sharp bend (right) in trail
- N40 05.024 W105 34.873 — 5.05 miles : Beaver Creek Trail - Mt Audubon Trailhead
- The Coney Flats 4WD Road is rough, narrow and should only be attempted by experienced drivers with cars in good condition. Standard vehicles should park at the west end of Beaver Reservoir and walk approximately 3.4 miles to the Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area. Factor this additional time and distance in when planning your trip.
- Snow may linger on this trail - especially north facing segments - throughout the summer. Large cairns offer guidance, however some sections north of the Mt Audubon junction are sparingly marked. Carry a good map and call ahead for trail conditions.
- 40% of this trail rides above treeline and is highly exposed. Anticipate strong sun, wind, cool temperatures and rapidly changing weather conditions. Get an early start to avoid summer thunderstorms. Out and back hikers should factor in extra time for the strenuous, exposed return trip.
Rules and Regulations
- Campfires are prohibited on the east side of the Continental Divide, as well as Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Gourd Lake, Crater Lake and in the Cascade Creek drainage above Cascade Falls.
- Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times.
- Permits are required for all overnight campers June 1 through September 15.
- Permits are required year-round for day and overnight use for large groups (8 or more people) or organizational groups such as scouts, churches, schools and hiking clubs.
- Group size is limited to a maximum of 12 people or people and packstock combined.
- Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 through November 30.
- In the Diamond, Jasper, Crater and Caribou Lakes Backcountry Zones camping is allowed only at designated campsites.
- Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of lakes, streams and trails.
- Motorized or mechanized equipment, including mountain bikes, wagons, carts and chainsaws, are not permitted (wheelchairs are allowed).
- Packstock is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.
- Hobbling, tethering or picketing of packstock is prohibited within 100 feet of lakes, streams or trails.
- Only pelletized or steam-rolled feed grains, or certified weed-free hay, straw, or mulch are allowed. See 2-2005-01, Weed Free Forage Products, dated 6/20/05 for the official Order.
- Leave No Trace Practices
Directions to Trailhead
The Beaver Creek Trail begins at the Beaver Creek Trailhead on Coney Flats Road, approximately 5.9 miles west of CO Highway 72 near Ward, Colorado.
From Highway 72, turn west on County Road 96 and travel 2.5 miles on the dirt road to the west end of Beaver Reservoir, where 4WD vehicles may continue 3.4 miles on the Coney Flats Road to the Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area. 2WD vehicles must park at the west end of Beaver Reservoir and walk the remaning distance.
County Road 96 is located 2.5 north of Ward, Colorado.
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301