It’s hard to find anything better than hiking through the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest in the Rocky Mountains with your best furry furiend. The Jean Lunning Trail is a 4.1-mile loop hike that is fairly easy to moderate for the casual hiker. You and your poochie will be sure to thoroughly enjoy the views, the scents, and the peacefulness of nature at its finest in the alpines.
This is a very pupular trail, probably because it is so easy and features amazing scenery along with the gorgeous Long Lake at the midpoint of your walk. There is a large barking lot at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area on Brainard Lake Road, which is where you and your fur baby will begin your adventure. You can leave your car, but be aware that there is a fee of $11 between June and October, so bring cash as they don’t accept plastic. Be sure to bring water and clean up bags along too.
You will find the Niwot Cutoff Trail at the Niwot Picnic Area, which you will have to follow for about a half of a mile to get to the Jean Lunning Trail. This is a gradual westward slope that is completely surrounded by mature pines, Rocky Mountain junipers and aspen trees. You will come to a trail that says both Jean Lunning and Long Lake Trail, and indeed follow the same path, so continue to follow this around the lake.
A segment of the Pawnee Pass Trail merges with the trail for the northern side of the lake and will continue back to the Niwot Picnic Area. However, if you want to take a side trip, you can hike up the short, but unsigned Niwot Ridge to get an amazing view of the Shoshoni, Apache, and Navajo Mountains from the ridge. This will add another 2 miles to your hike, so be prepared if you decide to try it.
On your return trip, you will be rewarded with a plethora of furific wildflowers in all colors such as bright red Indian paintbrush, purple and yellow columbine, blue gentians, and wild red roses and orchids. Continue to follow the sloping path as it meanders down along the outlet stream back to the Niwot Picnic Area where you began your adventure.