Niwot Mountain, 3496m (11471 ft)

Mountain area: Indian Peaks, Colorado USA

Hiked: July 16, 2001

Maps: Nat'l Geographic #102 - Indian Peaks/Gold Hill


  • Colorado's Indian Peaks, Gerry Roach
Click for larger image

Niwot Ridge seen from Mt. Audubon

Access (Long Lake Trailhead):

Please refer to the above books for more details and alternative routes

From Boulder, follow Colorado 119 westbound to Nederland, then Colorado 72 north to Ward. Immediately after Ward, turn left towards Brainard Lake Recreation Area. After a couple of miles, you have to pay a $5 fee at the fee station. Continue 6 miles past Brainard Lake to Long Lake Trailhead. If you're heading out a sunny summer morning, you could end up parking a good distance from the trailhead. If this is the case, look out for a "Niwot shortcut", saving you a little distance.

Another approach is from Sordough TH, further south on Colorado 72. The trail is called Niwot Ridge Road, turning into Niwot Ridge Trail as it enters the ridge summit.

The trail:

From Long Lake trailhead, stay on the main trail for 10-15 minutes, then exit left on to the Jean Lunnings trail. Cross a bridge, and just after a section of boardwalks, a small unmarked (trail 906 on map) takes off to the left.

The trail direction to Niwot Ridge is straight south, but switchbacks up through the forest, making this a nice and easy hike. Entering Niwot Ridge, you see a signpost encouraging you to stay on trails, if any. To your right, Niwot Ridge rises to 12284'. I didn't go this way. I went straight up the nearest summit. This summit has some peculiar devices on top, and if someone knows what this is, please drop me an email.

The summit is on the eastern end of the ridge, at 11471 feet .


This was my second day in the Indian Peaks, and the mountain was perfect for altitude adjustment. The day before, I hiked to Lake Isabelle, watching ugly clouds coming down over Apache Peak. Within seconds, the place turned into an inferno of hail, rain, winds, thunder and lighting. So I paid extra attention to the clouds, as I entered Niwot. But it turned out to be a beautiful day.

I started from Long Lake TH at 7:20, made the first summit at 8:20, and the easternmost summit at 9:20. I'm not sure if I walked fast or not, but 4 hours after starting hiking, back at the car, I didn't feel good. The 1 hour+ drive back to Longmont was painful, and for the next 7 hours, I felt like dying. My altitude problem comes into play when going down, not up. So it is difficult to plan the hike.

Pictures: (move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version)

Indian Peaks seen from Brainard Lake. Niwot up to the left (286KB) From the Long Lake trail, continue over this bridge towards Niwot (200KB) Indian Peaks rise as you get higher towards Niwot (312KB) Seen from the Niwot Ridge, Mt. Audubon stands out (260KB) Niwot Mountain seen from Niwot ridge (182KB) The strange devices on top of the first Niwot summit (235KB) Seen from the Niwot Ridge, from Apache Peak to Longs Peak (437KB) The Araphaos and Kiowa Peak, seen from Niwot ridge (190KB) The Araphaos and Kiowa Peak, seen from Niwot Mountain (287KB) Lefthand reservoir and Longs Peak seen from Niwot Mountain (153KB) A high one, Mt. Evans? seen from Niwot Mountain (183KB) Niwot Mountain summit (152KB)

Other trail descriptions for this region: