Explore Westcliffe Area Trails - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Westcliffe Area Trails Map
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Great hike. The aspen are GORGEOUS now. However when you get to the sign that says Rainbow trail and points both right and left, go right. You have to be a Mt. Goat to do the left trail. We lost quite a bit of time going that way then turning around to find the right trail. Didn't make it to the lake so are heading back next Sat.

We took the swift creek trail which led to a sign and we took the Lake of the Clouds trail marked 3.75 .. it was probably 6-8 miles total from the trailhead to the gorgeous lake. We walked through the aspens and the leaves were changing to gorgeous yellow and orange. The lake was crystal clear perfect for trout fishing.

A great hike. The TH on the Rainbow is unpassable due to extreme amount of down trees. The Peerless Mine trailhead is the way to access. You access by CR 198 following 331 for over 3 miles. Many Cross roads but stay on 331. AWD or at least some high clearance for the road. Rocky, steep in a place or 2 but doable in Outback on dry surface. Trail is beautiful. The lakes were pretty low due to drought but first one is a large lake. Loved the trail. Another beautiful Sangres trail. 8 miles round trip from Peerless Mine TH.

This trip is a strong uphill on a trail that is overwhelmed with rocks and hard to get into a good flow. For 4 miles you are in trees with glimpses of mountains but no real view until the top. Once at the top it is pretty but I don't feel it is worth the effort required compared to other hikes in the area.

Plus side is the drive in is on pavement most of the way. Downside is you have to dodge horse crap in the parking lot

Does anyone know if there is dispersed camping on the way up?

hiking
6 days ago

This trail head is difficult to find and when you do it is busy with Jeep & 4 wheelin’ vehicles. Dust in your face, rocky, nothing very scenic to justify the climb. Too many other good trails to experience in CO.

hiking
14 days ago

Hiked August 28. 5.1 miles up to the lake and 5.1 miles down according to my garmin. First 1.5 miles of switchbacks are steep and sandy but doable. Clear trail all the way. Great mountain lake and waterfall. Saw woodpeckers, picas, marmots and a bighorn sheep.

Backpacked here on 9/1/18. We drove our ‘13 Subaru Forester just past the grape creek(?) TH. We tried to make it further up the road, but it was too rough. High clearance is needed if you want to drive to the trailhead for music pass.

After parking, we put on our packs. I believe we hiked over 2 miles up the road before reaching the upper parking lot/TH. It is steep, and quite difficult with a heavy pack on. Many four wheelers and trucks went by us on the road. Not very pleasant to be left in the dust from all the vehicles. That being said, we were very happy once we got to the actual trail. It is beautifully forested before opening up on the pass. Gorgeous 360 views near the sign for Music pass. We found a dispersed site with an incredible view. With our packs off, we went down the trail towards the lakes. It was about 5 pm now and were unsure about weather so we turned around. Would love to head back here next summer to see the lakes.

Love the Sangre de Cristo range!!

backpacking
19 days ago

We did an overnight backpack trip in July which was very nice. The weekend we went was very hot which was a factor in the hike up but it was enjoyable none the less. Sadly there were a lot of dead trees standing and on the ground which was a bit of a detractor. However, the fishing was good with Brookies in the lower lake and Cutthroats in the upper lake. A nice destination worthy of your time.

hiking
23 days ago

Amazing hike!

23 days ago

I have a stock FJ with road tires that need changing and it did fine. Don’t listen to Robert...

backpacking
27 days ago

I back packed this area last week. Yes, the road is rough, mostly with large boulders. I had no trouble getting to the TH with my 4wd 2012 RAV4 and all season tires. Go slow and pick your trail. As others have mentioned the partly exposed metal culvert is nasty - stay to right on the way up and all will be OK. The bugs are gone. There are many nice camp sites on the south side of the lower lake. Treat your water as there are many bighorn sheep and people in the area.

backpacking
28 days ago

This was my very first trip to Colorado and the lakes are still my favorites in all the state. It is a rocky uphill climb, and for a "flatlander" Hoosier like myself, the elevation was challenging to adjust to. As it also was my first real backpacking trip, I pretty unprepared as far as gear and choice of clothes. The campsites up top were a great place to unwind and recharge for a couple days. A very friendly doe lived up there while I visited and followed me around most the time I was there. Beautiful mountains, lakes, and insanely undisturbed, dark-night, galaxy-filled skies await at these lakes.

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike. Parked at the second parking lot....I wouldnt drive to that point but a friend did and it was kinda like a roller coaster ride.

However you can walk up from the first lot like previous people have mentioned.

THIS IS A MUST DO HIKE.

30 days ago

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This is a beautiful, moderately challenging hike with a beautiful reward at the end. The hike is longer than the description and the trail map suggest. It’s not 8 miles round trip per the description. It’s at least 12 round trip. I got 30,000 steps on my Fitbit = over 13 Miles. We walked around the lake some but the trip from the trailhead to the lake and back is at least 12 Miles. So worth it and a great hike. Just beware of the distance discrepancies. It took us about 3,5 hours to get to the top with frequent stops to take amazing pictures.

hiking
1 month ago

Had noooooo idea what I was getting myself into. Just decided that I was going to take the Lakes Of The Clouds trail and it was definitely challenging. But the view was beyond amazing.

Amazing.

backpacking
1 month ago

beautiful trail all the way to the lake. please bring bear proof containers for food! The bear knows that hanging bags are food and tore into someone's food everyday we were there. he mauled our bear bags but didn't get our food fortunately.

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked this trail Aug 11. Our app recorded 6.2 miles RT from the upper parking lot/TH. It takes about 45 min-1 hr to drive to the TH from Westcliffe. You definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to drive the last 3 miles of the road to get to the upper parking lot and to get out of your parking spot (HA!) (we had to tow someone out of their spot because they were stuck). There is room for about 20-25 vehicles at the upper lot, and another parking area about a minute down the road. The lot was mostly full by 9am, and this is the busiest TH we've seen in the Westcliffe area. A bathroom is at the lower TH.
It is a typical CO trail and not anything too extreme or rugged. We had gorgeous weather and it was beautiful, varying scenery. Saw about a dozen ptarmigan. Also saw 4 horses along the trail, and some horse poop. Some remnants of wildflowers, but mostly dried out. No mosquitoes. Lots of views from Music Pass and neat bristlecone pines around the pass. The view of pointy Tijeras Peak was our favorite, and it also happens to be the backdrop of Lower Sand Creek Lake--just gorgeous! Some backcountry camping sites at the lake and good fishing! Many trout were swimming around as we ate lunch at the lake. Note: You do hike up in elevation and down and up again to get to the lake and then reverse to get back to the TH, so it can make for some "hot" climbing back up to Music Pass in the afternoon on your way back to the TH.

The above, posted directions for this trail are wrong. Here are the correct ones:
-Drive south on Hwy 69 for 4.6 miles
-Turn right on CR 119 (Colfax Ln) and drive south for 6 miles to a T intersection
-Turn left on CR 120
-After 0.2 mi, the road makes a sharp right and becomes CR 119
-Continue 5 miles to lower Music Pass TH
-Road (now 4WD) continues for another 2.5 miles and ends at upper Music Pass TH

backpacking
1 month ago

My SO and I planned to do this loop over 2 nights but were cut short due to weather. We hiked up to venable lake, it was 6.5-7 miles. The aspen groves were beautiful and the view before making the final climb amazing. The lake area was open and rocky, but good for setting up a tent. Unfortunately we got all settled in and the predicted light rain turned into a pretty bad storm and we had to throw everything in our packs and make a run for the trailhead. I’ll definitely be back to finish the loop another time.

camping
1 month ago

This is a great, challenging trail. There’s a variety of landscapes and much of the trail is picturesque. The lake is beautiful and camping area is clearly marked. The road to the trailhead has many pull-offs for car camping, I recommend a high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead but it’s not a long walk from any of the camp sites if you have a smaller car.

hiking
1 month ago

So, the trail head on this one is misleading as there are 2. We parked at the LOWER TH and this will add 2 miles each way to your hike. The lower trail/road is not marked very well, we only saw 1 arrow pointing the way. The upper TH is apparently 2 miles or so up the road, we never got that far. The road is a 4X4 trail and looked a bit rough. We saw a newer Ford Explorer go up but I would not venture up this one in my truck. We came across a very nice guy in a jeep (at our turn around point) who said we were half way to the upper TH, even though we were 2.5 in?? We did decide to return to the car as we had some time constraints. This was a beautiful hike none the less. We are hoping to head back up on 4 wheelers and find the upper TH and the true trail. The elevation gain and distance listed are most likely from the upper TH and not the lower one. The climb up the first leg has steep areas and will make the heart pump but is not bad. There is a restroom at the lower TH and is clean for the most part.

hiking
1 month ago

The roads to the TH are mostly paved followed by a short section of an easy dirt road.
Although this area is beautiful, I'm only giving it 3 stars because my friend and I lost the trail. We hiked it on July 29. Our guidebook ("Hiking Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Wilderness" Falcon Guide) had incorrect directions--the correct directions are to go right at the Rainbow Trail and then left on the Horn Lakes Trail. So with the extra detour of going the wrong direction at the beginning, this hike didn't start off well. There is a bathroom at the TH. Only a few downed trees on the trail, lots of wildflowers, and even wild strawberries that were quite yummy! Complete solitude--we only saw 2 other hikers on this trail the entire time. AROUND TREELINE, THERE IS A SECOND CREEK CROSSING--MAKE SURE YOU GO RIGHT AND CROSS THE CREEK! We went the wrong way and continued straight ahead on the well-worn trail that ended at a pond in the beautiful basin. We should have turned around and backtracked, but we thought the trail was overgrown (like some others in the area) and thought we'd soon find the lakes. No such luck! We bushwacked for 1 1/2 hours through thick bushes, mud, and what must have been game trails with lots of (bear?) poop, and we finally gave up when we figured out we were on the opposite side of the basin where the lakes were and it was time to head down.

backpacking
1 month ago

Went backpacking up the Venable part of the loop in a group of four of us over the weekend. We measured it as a 7 mile hike from the lot to the largest Venable Lake on a Fitbit and an Apple Watch, which is different that the map. I am new to utilizing the app so not sure what happened but it took us by surprise as the sign notes that the hike to Venable Lakes is 4.75 miles. The last section to the largest lake was very challenging with significant elevation gain. It is straight up the side of the hill/mountain to a small plateau. There is a great camp site near the first lakes. The hike itself is very beautiful, with wildflowers and groves of aspen. The views are incredible as you can see across the valley to the Wet Mountains in several spots. Most of the hike was in the forest until the last section. We camped just off the trail near the largest lake. The fishing was incredible. There are some big cutthroats in that lake and each of us caught at least one. The trail is very rocky and coming down was more of a challenge and it was hard on the feet. I didn't notice it as much on the hike up. Perhaps a recent washout with the storm that blew through. We were visited by a few deer bucks at our camp site each night. They were very tame and curious and were content to be 30 yards away and watch us cook dinner.

horseback riding
1 month ago

I love the Rainbow Trail; it doesn't get any better for me! Swift Trail up to the Lakes is steep and rocky but the beauty at the end is worth every step!

backpacking
1 month ago

We backpacked to Willow Lake Thursday 8/2 and stayed until Saturday 8/4, summiting Kit Carson and Challenger in between. The hike up to the lake was absolutely gorgeous! Once you get up closer to the lake, you have a great view of the San Luis valley. It was definitely strenuous to gain that much elevation with heavy packs, but well worth the effort!

We had a few unnerving encounters with the problem bear that has been mentioned in previous comments. It came fairly close to our camp two separate times before dark, and came right up to our tent twice in the middle of the night even though we did not have any food/toiletries in our tent or packs. It was not easily scared off even after we yelled at it and clapped our hands. I did speak with the local ranger station today, and they informed me that the bear is no longer in the Willow Lakes area so it should not be an issue for future campers.

It was a good long hike - 8 miles total, out and back. Only for the adventurous and experienced!

backpacking
1 month ago

Large, noisy group in main campground before lake. Bear is easily scared away. Scenery is incredible. First 1/3 of trail easy switchbacks on dirt, second 1/3 undulating rock and dirt, final 1/3 trail steep and rocky in places. Moderate for day packs and strenuous with heavy packs. Hike just beyond the lake for incredible views!

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