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Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail

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Arapaho National Forest

Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail is a 7.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Tabernash, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 7.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,102 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

Note: the road to the trailhead can be periodically CLOSED due to snow however the trail is still accessible. Please check the park page for information and updates. 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.

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful trail with a lot of water along the way for dogs to cool off. Definitely bring a lot of bug spray so you can reapply along the way

hiking
bugs
fee
rocky
3 days ago

One of my favorite trails in the area although there were lots of mosquitoes this trip. This trail has it all- forest, meadows, waterfall, lake. Note that road 84 that goes to the trailhead is the same as Forest road 129. Also, it is brutally rough the last couple of miles. There are bathrooms in the parking lot which is nice.

Beautiful! Full of mosquitoes. Huge fallen trees, but easy to maneuver around.

hiking
bugs
5 days ago

We backpacked to the lake and spent the night (with a permit, of course). It makes a great backpacking trip for beginners or anyone looking for a short trip. Make sure you bring bug spray!! The mosquitoes were awful...Otherwise, it was a great trip.

hiking
8 days ago

Gorgeous views. Loved the beautiful streams, waterfalls, and meadows along the hike. Only 4 stars instead of 5 because as other reviewers mentioned the downed trees made it tough to navigate the trail in a few places, especially at the top. When you reach the lake, we were absolutely swarmed by mosquitoes, so much so that you could barely stand still to enjoy the view. Yet, with this said, I would do it again! (Hopefully less bugs next time) 7 miles out and back, took us 3 hours 25 mins.

hiking
10 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike with a variety of scenery and vegetation! We loved it, our dog loved it. There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said, would highly recommend. We hiked this particular trail on a Monday morning and when we arrived at the trailhead, were one of four cars. However, when returning to our car, the parking lot was starting to get full so something to keep in mind. Also, bring/wear bug spray! We were eaten alive by mosquitoes at the lake.

hiking
fee
muddy
over grown
snow
11 days ago

This is one of my favorite trails, but is in need of a little trail maintenance with downed trees that can make finding the trail a tad tricky in a few areas. Otherwise, beautiful hike with great final alpine lake views. I even saw a mama moose with her calf, but was quick to get away from them (and they were quick to book it the opposite direction of my dog and I). Getting to the trailhead also is slow going with lots of dips in the road, glad to have AWD!

hiking
12 days ago

The hike was very nice. There were some snow patches you had to walk through and at some points the trail got a little confusing to follow because many trees were down and there are many social trails. The lake itself is pretty and there are a lot of good spots to sit and relax.

Some snow in last mile but minimal postholing. Lots of swampy areas just before the lake

hiking
off trail
scramble
snow
20 days ago

hiking
26 days ago

The road to get to the trailhead is still closed

hiking
closed
1 month ago

Tried to hike this today and found that the road was closed 15 mins out from the trail head.

hiking
snow
8 months ago

Amazing trail! Plenty of wild animals to spot as you walk along with amazing views. Definitely worth the hike!

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Beautiful trail! I went with the Denver Parks and Rec group. So glad they had the van to get up the dirt road as it is bumpy!! This trail has everything...rocky in the beginning, then beautiful walk through forests to open meadows with beautiful views, small creek waterfalls and then Columbine Lake. I guess they've changed the trail some because it is 4 miles from the parking lot. We also went around the lake so ended with 8.75 miles.

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike! Spent a short time at the lake. Weather was moving in. 3.5 hours total time out and back.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice, mostly-shaded gentle uphill walk through pine forest, overlooking meadows and streams. Trail ends at a lovely little mountain lake. Appropriate trail for physically fit hikers of all ages, though ~3 hrs round trip may outlast the attention span of some younger hikers. The last mile of the drive to the trailhead is rutted but you don’t need a special vehicle. Loved this hike and will make it a repeater!

hiking
10 months ago

Connected columbine lake with the pass. Fun but challenging. Very nice views. My favorite trail so far together with devils thumb

The drive to the trailhead is a little rough for low clearance cars. Would recommend something higher off the ground. Otherwise trail is great and good for backpacking. Watch out for the mozzies at the lake. Moose scat on trail.

hiking
10 months ago

Trailhead was pretty empty at 7 AM on Monday of LDW. It was around 35 degrees before the sun came up, so bring layers! I drove up to the trailhead in an Impreza and it was rough. For 10 miles up to the parking area, you are driving on an unmaintained forest service road. Lots of huge holes and sharp rocks to navigate around for about 5 miles. It is POSSIBLE to do in a car with low ground clearance, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I was driving extremely slow and still bottomed out once. Bathrooms at trailhead. Nice shady hike that leads up to a clear blue lake. I live in CO and thought it was a very easy hike, but could be more challenging for those not acclimated to the altitude.

Great hike! We started around 1:15pm on a Saturday and although parking lot was super full the trail was not crowded. The views were stunning and the lake was amazing. We loved the change in terrain and even though it was a steady incline all the way up with a bit of steep rocks the last mile to lake. Super dog friendly, our dog loved it and ran into several other dogs and was able to swim in several streams until she got to the lake. Highly recommend this hike!

This is such a beautiful trail with wild flowers, waterfalls and the lake. Glad we started early so we had the lake basically to ourselves. Lots of people heading up at noon.

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

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