Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail

MODERATE 93 reviews
#22 of 145 trails in

Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail is a 7.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Tabernash, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

7.3 miles
1,102 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




nature trips



wild flowers


This trail takes you through Indian Peaks Wilderness. Trail is well maintained and lightly traveled. A gradual up hill climb ends at the lake. Some areas are flat and easy while other parts require you to climb over hills and rocks. At 1.8 miles on the Caribou Pass Trail, take the right fork. Permits are required for overnight stays in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (IPW) from June 1 to September 15. Additional permit requirements exist for large and organized groups. Mechanized/motorized travel is prohibited. Do not camp or build campfires within 100 feet of developed trails or bodies of water. Group size is limited to 12 people and/or livestock. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Follow Leave No Trace principles.

4 days ago

DURATION: Beautiful hike all around, took about 3.5 hours solo. Would recommend allowing 5-6 hrs for groups.

INCLINE: Steady gradual uphill with periods of flat hiking grounds. Take it easy on the last 1/2 mile (steep incline and elevation change), where it then flattens out again to a beautiful lake. Also, remember where the trail is to get back from the lake - this can be a little challenging once you've started walking around the lake shores.

RECOMMENDATIONS: water, snack, trek poles (especially for any beginner hikers), light raincoat/jacket, and bugspray. If you slow down or take a break, the mosquitoes swarm you but it is important to pace yourself and take small breaks on this hike!

OVERALL: Eating lunch / snacks by the lake is picture perfect. VERY WELL MAINTAINED PATH. =)

DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Difficult (last 1/2 mile)

9 days ago

Beautiful hike along a creek with a picturesque lake at the end! Well-maintained and moderately trafficked.

The wildflowers were in full bloom which made it even more enjoyable.

11 days ago

Beautiful lake at the end of the trail. great hike for any skill level.

17 days ago

Beautiful day

1 month ago

Hiked this last weekend, which is 12.6 miles round trip from the closed gates. Still a good amount of snow in the trees which means post holeing here and there. I took my fishing pole, but the lake was 80% still frozen.

1 month ago

Final 2.5 miles of road to Junko trailhead is closed until June 15 so we hiked from Redneck Village. You don’t need a permit to camp at the lake until June 15th either. The trail is excellent but there is still significant snow for the last mile. Some trail finding due to snow and your feet will be soaked without gaiters.

1 month ago

Was so excited to do this trail, but the road to the trailhead is NOT open until June. However you can hike up to it - but it's 5 miles!
Also if you plan on going around this area take a 4 wheel drive vehicle with a higher suspension!
I am so so excited to do this trail later on in the year since I've heard so many good things about it!

8 months ago

I've done this in summer (July) and mud season (Oct). Much prettier in summer, although in fall/Sept all the aspens would make it beautiful. Fairly easy for a big payout in spectacular high mountain lake. Right now is VERY icy

9 months ago

Great hike amazing views! For a bunch of flatlanders we did pretty good. Made it to the lake just before the cold front came in. Took us about 4hrs there and back with lots of little breaks. Would definitely do it again on a day with less chance of rain or snow.

Off Junco trailhead. On 11 miles of gravel road, not too rough. First few miles are a constant gentle uphill climb, not too strenuous but gets the blood pumping. Through the woods and past many meadows. There were still some flowers as well as some of the leaves starting to turn for fall.
Once you gently switchback up from
A meadow to the woods the trail splits, well marked path and easy to follow to the right. Continues in woods for awhile then starts to steeply switchback up. There is a 1/2 mile section that is hard and steep, but doable and worth it. Then it eases up and you come out onto he rocks and work your way to the lake.
The lake of course is gorgeous. Clear, surrounded by peaks. A dream. We saw a group of some kids and guides and then roughly 8-10 people otherwise all on the way down but one other couple out early. Started early, took 3.5 hours roughly of hiking plus plenty of stops to enjoy. Altitude only issue during the steep part it was harder to breathe, otherwise it was fine (flatlander).

10 months ago

10 months ago

This was a great hike! The uphill climb is primarily at the end. There was a wonderful stone path across a meadow that passed by a marmot hotel in the rocks nearby. Lake was beautiful. Views awesome. Even the drive to the trailhead was interesting.

10 months ago

The dirt road leading up to the trailhead kind of sucks, but the hike itself is very nice.

10 months ago

I've been living in this area for 10 years but haven't done this hike until today. I have to say that even after a decade of living in these mountains I was quite impressed with the views on this hike. A little challenging towards the end of the trail, but if you're not used to the thin air at this altitude, you may find it to be a difficult hike, but the views are well worth it.

11 months ago

Just do it

11 months ago

This is a lovely hike, the first two miles are gently sloping and easy, with some logs to cross over. After you pass the stone-lined muskeg, the trail becomes precipitously more steep and challenging, however, you are more than rewarded when you arrive at lovely Columbine Lake. There are some small waterfalls on your right as you approach the lake. Prepare for some mosquitos once you take your seat to enjoy the views of the snow ringed lake. Wonderful hiking.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Beautiful hike, nice meadows and wildflowers. I would rate this hike moderate to difficult. Once you pass the Indian peak wilderness sign be prepared for uphill and after passing through the meadow on the stones, I'd say the trail is difficult all the way to the top. Don't be fooled by reviews that say it's easy. Ultimately, it's worth it. Columbine Lake and it's surroundings are spectacular.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Loved this hike. Can make it to trailhead with standard car but the dirt road is a bit washed. I would rate this as an easy hike. 3.5ish up, 7.5ish roundtrip. The only reason I would say it's slightly moderate is for people that aren't used to the altitude, it is a higher elevation hike. Beautiful wildflowers everywhere. Get there early, very very very popular trail

Friday, July 14, 2017

This is an amazing hike! So beautiful!!! One of the best we've been on anywhere!
The car ride there on the dirt/gravel road was very bumpy and slow though, be warned!

Monday, July 10, 2017

This trail was beautiful. Very clean and well kept. Easy to find also. I went July 9 and there was a little bit of snow left. Saw lots of families with kids enjoying it as well. There were quite a bit of bugs at the lake which was to be expected.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Great hike up the mountain. We were worried about how much effort this would require, and the climb up was certainly no stroll through the woods, but all in all we were able to haul our 50 year-old bodies up and down in just over 3 hours, with about 20-30 minutes hanging out at the top. The climb is steady, with just a few switchbacks and some stretches of flat. It takes you through a varied landscape of forest and meadow, with frequent passes by mountain streams and great mountain views. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the vista (and catch your breath). Once to the top, you are greeted by a wonderful lake set in a little mountain bowl. The more adventurous could continue climbing a bit higher, but we were happy to enjoy the lake.

The great thing about this hike was that it was that we had the trail nearly to ourselves. We passed a single hiker on the way up and we found one small party at the lake when we arrived. They left soon and we had the lake to ourselves. There were a few more people on the way up as we descended, but compared to other trails in the area, this one was lightly traveled.

One caution - finding the trail head back down from the lake was a bit of a challenge. Look for landmarks when you arrive to so you can find your way back.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Beautiful hike -- well worth the effort.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Probably the second best hike I've ever been on in CO (Sky Pond being the best). This is a super fun trail with wandering paths, log bridges, snow, and water features nearly the whole way up. The top is a very rewarding view. Difficulty is moderate and most of the altitude gain comes in the final mile. Hike was about 5 hours (with 30 minutes spent at top)

There was a trail guide who somewhat falsely advertised the hike before we began by saying that it was 3.5 miles. I assume he meant up to the lake because the whole thing was definitely longer.

Overall a really pretty, enjoyable hike.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Amazing hike! The view at the end is breathtaking...not too difficult of vertical just plan plenty of time for the distance.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Entire family Enjoyed this trail very much. Saw lots of wildlife. Some snow in places and a little wet. Hiked with two 13 year olds, took about 3.5 hours RT. Very beautiful.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The gate is open up to the top of the trailhead now. There's quite a bit of snow up there still, as of this past Saturday, 6/17. We were the first ones on the trail that morning and found it difficult to follow at some points. We'd originally turned around about a mile from the lake, but ended up meeting up with a couple who was a little more familiar with the area and followed them up. I'd love to get back out there when the snow melts off a little more, as you can tell there will be tons of wildflowers. There's evidence of wildlife all over the place, but we didn't see any deer or elk, despite being on the trail early in the morning. Great hike! Your shoes will get wet!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Still a little snowy, especially the entire last mile. Beautiful views definitely worth it, though!

Monday, May 29, 2017

We tried to get up to this trail but were stopped by what may be a new gate. About 4.5 miles from trail head on USFS129 there is a gate with a sign that forbids motor vehicles on the road until after June 15. This gate doesn't show up on my Nat. Geo. trails map and might be new. Here is a link to the road status page:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Beautifully diverse scenery. One of my favorites!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Quite a drive up to the trail head, but would be beautiful in September with all the aspens. Really nice trail and well maintained. Our 5 and 9 yr old loved the bridges, stepping stones, and crossing over the larger rocks. A bit muddy at times with the rain and some snowy spots. Plenty of photo opportunities with the meadows against the mountains and of course the lake. Took us 4.5 hrs with the kids.

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