From Boulder, take Boulder Canyon (CO 119) to Nederland. At the roundabout in Nederland, take the Estes Park Turn (CO 72). Drive thru Ward and continue until you see the Brainard Lake Recreation Area sign. Take a left turn at the sign. Stop at the Red Rock Trailhead pullout located right before the guard shack, pay station. The trailhead is on the left and is marked “Lefthand Reservoir”. Do not confuse the trailhead area with Red Rock Lake. If you pass the guard shack and reach the lake, you’ve gone too far.
From the Lefthand Reservoir Trailhead, begin hiking along the dirt road for approximately 1.5 miles. On the North slopes, climb South along an unmarked trail for .8 to 1 mile. It varies depending on whether or not you are able to locate the actual trail. The trail is not obvious and takes a fair bit of route finding. I could not find it until I reached treeline. There are a few cairns above treeline marking the way. The rounded summit is in full view. If you can take your eyes off the magnificent view of the surrounding peaks and still are not on the trail, it’s still pretty obvious where to go. The hike is approximately 4.6 miles and gains approximately 1370’ in elevation. The summit of Niwot Mountain rests at 11,471’.
Snowshoes may be necessary along the road leading to Lefthand Reservoir. When I hiked the Peak in January, I did not bring snowshoes and postholed a few times but not enough to make it worth carrying them. Crampons and mountianeering axe are not necessary on this hike. Treking poles will suffice.
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