Rainbow Lakes

Round-Trip Length:  3.04 miles
Start-End Elevation:  9,984′ – 10,283′
Elevation Change:  +299′ net elevation gain
Skill Level:  Easy
Trailhead Location:  The Rainbow Lakes Trailhead is located 5 miles west of Highway 72 on Rainbow Lakes Road (a.k.a. County Road 116 – National Forest System Road 298). Rainbow Lakes Road is located 7.35 miles north of Nederland, CO. Turn west from Highway 72 on Rainbow Lakes Road and keep straight past the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station access road and Caribou 4WD turnoff, through the Rainbow Lakes Campground to the small parking area at the road’s terminus at the trailhead.

Last Sunday we decided to get out for a short hike up to Rainbow Lakes.  I had snowshoed in this area a few years ago but never made it up to the lakes.  Even though a short hike, it was still beautiful.  The trail starts at the Rainbow Lakes Campground area.


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A quarter of a mile up the trail is the junction for the Arapaho Glacier trail.  I want to return another day to hike this trail to get some great views of  Silver, Island, Goose, and Triple lakes.  These lakes have no public access as they are part of the City of Boulder Watershed.


We continued up into the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the first lake at 0.35 miles.  Actually these lakes are really more ponds than lakes.

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We continued on up the trail to the second pond and a small stream crossing with some beautiful wildflowers.

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We continued on up the trail to more wildflowers.

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After about a mile we arrived at the third pond.

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We explored around between the 3rd and 4th ponds taking in the beautiful reflections and just enjoying the day.

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After a short break, we headed back down the trail.

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A shot from the trail head parking lot after returning from our hike.

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Our trail route today.

Rainbow Lakes Map

A few shots as we were heading back down the Rainbow Lakes road back to the highway.  I found the same shot I took a few years back on the snowshoe trek up this road.

Rainbow Lakes Road

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Now time to head to Wondervu for a late lunch!




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