The Indian Peaks Wilderness consists of 76,586 acres, which includes over 50 lakes, and 28 hiking trails that cover about 133 miles.It’s a wild place that has a definite backcountry feel to it and has elevations that range from 8,400 to just over 13,500 feet. Here, I’ll be giving you descriptions of the easy to moderate trails.
Some of the wildlife that you might see in the Indian Peaks Wilderness includes: moose, elk, mule deer, mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, coyote, red fox, beaver, marmots, and pica, among others. We’ve seen marmots and pica here but so far, we haven’t seen any of the other residents.
One of the places you can access the Indian Peaks Wilderness is at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. If you go there, you’ll need to pay a fee of $10.00 for a three-day pass, or $55.00 for a season pass. (In 2015). Some of what that pays for is restrooms at the trailheads and more parking spots.
Because of the high elevations in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, trails can be wet, muddy, and snow-covered through June and even early July. (The Columbine Lake trail was muddy when we hiked it in late July, but it was a heavy snow year.) So if you prefer dryer conditions, my advice is to hike these trails in about mid July or later.
If you have a dog, then one other useful piece of information is that your canine companion is welcome to hike the Indian Peaks Wilderness with you, as long as you keep her/him on a leash.
And last but not least, you may or may not know that the Indian Peaks Wilderness is one of the most often visited wilderness areas in the United States. For this reason, it’s better to hike here on week days and to arrive as early in the morning as possible. (On weekends, it’s best to arrive by 8:00 a.m.) Arriving earlier in the morning also keeps you safer from the afternoon thunderstorms that often come up.