Just past the turnoff to the Brainard winter lot in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area is a four-wheel drive road leading to Lefthand Reservoir; it’s about 100 yards beyond the Brained Lake Road gate closure and to the left. This unplowed road is the route to the reservoir, and it is a favorite for both snowshoers and cross-country skiers due to the wide trial.
The first part of the road is a junction for several of the trails that make this area so popular. Note that some portions of this first leg are prone to exposure from high winds, and the trail may be windswept. Once past the initially steep section of the road, there is more than enough snowpack to guide you along a more level trail.
You’ll pass the Lefthand Creek bridge after 0.8 miles and the junction to Little Raven Trail soon after. Watch for an old quarry on the left before you reach the reservoir, as this may be hard to spot under snow. Wind may pick up at this point on the final approach to the reservoir, and windswept portions of the trail are possible.
When you reach the reservoir, Niwot Ridge is straight ahead, flanked by Kiowa, Arikaree, Navajo, Apache, Shoshoni, and Pawnee peaks. The earthen berm containing the reservoir creates a large hill. From here, some like to loop around the reservoir for extra mileage.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.