South St Vrain Creek:
Isabelle Lake to Lyons

South St Vrain Creek starts above Lake Isabelle from Isabelle Glacier.

The hike to Lake Isabelle is 4.2 miles round trip with great scenery and excellent fishing. The high mountain trout are eager for dry flies. Fishing with a small caddis pattern or Parachute Adams is always a winner.

The creek continues through Long Lake which is a 2.8 mile round trip. Long Lake is stocked with cutthroat, brook and rainbow trout. Call (303)541-2500 for more information.

The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a great place to spend the day and has easy access to several high mountain lakes and streams. Dogs are allowed in this area and most of the hiking is easy to moderate.

Fees apply during the summer operating season (typically mid/late-June through late September) $9 for a 5-day pass; $45 for a season pass; Interagency Annual, Senior or Access passes, Golden Age and Golden Access passes accepted. Make sure you have cash or check because they can't take cards.

Mitchell Lake is in the same area and is a good place to take the kids for hiking and fishing. The trail is an easy 1 mile hike with some nice water access at the outlet. Mitchell Lake is one of four lakes in the Indian Peaks, Four Lakes Travel Zone. The other lakes are Lake Isabelle, Long Lake and Blue Lake. Given their heavy day-use, no summer camping is permitted.


The closest campground to this area is Pawnee which has 55 sites adn is located off Brainard Lake drive jsut before you reach the lakes. Reservations must be made at least 4 days in advance. There is 2 night min. stay on weekends, 3 night on holidays and a maximum of 2 vehicles per site.

If you want a little more solitude while fishing the south St Vrain Creek with out going into the recreation area, park at the Left Hand Reservoir parking area and hike in on the Sourdough trail. The hike is an easy 1 1/2 mile down hill to the river and a nice wooden bridge makes for a good place to access the water. The creek is small and clear here but I love to see the fish take my fly. The hike into the recreation area is about 4 miles and you will have a lot of river to yourself.

To get to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area take Highyway 7(also called the Peak to Peak Highway) towards the town of Ward from Estes Park or Highway 7 from Lyons. The route from Lyons offers some of the best fishing along the highway, which has many turnouts.

South St. Vrain Creek is larger here with both the south and middle creek converging before Lyons, offering more opportunities for getting into the water. Every time I have been on this part of the river I have found the wading slippery. Make sure you have some good boots to keep from taking a swim.



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