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Columbine Lake via Caribou Pass Trail

MODERATE 210 reviews
#24 of 165 trails in

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, 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

bird watching

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Note: As of June 2019, the road to the trailhead is 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
snow
1 month ago

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

hiking
rocky
2 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
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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
3 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
3 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
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

love this hike. wildflowers were still popping.

Not too heavily trafficked on a Monday. Got to the trailhead a little later than planned, but plenty of parking was available. Not as many flowers as I thought there would be, but still a very nice hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Went through different areas of forest and across bogs. Plenty of bridges and stepping stones. Beautiful lake! Nice wildflowers. Gradual climb so that even this lowlander able to breathe.

hiking
3 months ago

A great hike! Really steep and Rocky at times but the lake is well worth the work.

hiking
muddy
rocky
3 months ago

Great hike! Got to the lake in about 1 1/2 hours. So many friendly people sharing the trail. The scenery was beautiful, lots of wildflowers and a few small waterfalls. The road in was a little rough and bumpy on the way in but could be driven in a sedan, I drive an SUV so no issues. Enjoyed the change of terrain through out the hike!

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing trail! What I love the most is the variety of trail surface as well as scenery. The drive to trail head is quite a challenge with deep ruts and mud. Mosquitos were scarce it was a windy day. Elevation a challenge for me since Im visiting from Florida.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked this trail on 8/10/19. The road is fully open all the way to the trail head. It was a cloudy day with a little bit of rain but that didn’t bothered us at all. The hike was more on the easy side for us but we live in Colorado so we hike a lot. The trail is well marked and just amazing all the way to Columbine lake. I highly recommend it, especially around this time of year. My only complaint is the mosquitoes, I’m glad I had pants and a rain jacket on.

hiking
3 months ago

My wife our our two sons (7 and 9) did this trail in early August. We enjoyed the variety of scenery along the trail as well as the lake at the top. The trail was a workout for the boys, but they did well and we would do it again. We packed a picnic lunch which we ate at the lake. We also brought some fishing gear and caught and released a few cutthroat trout at the top. The access road was manageable with our Dodge minivan.

camping
4 months ago

I see a lot of talk about the road up to the trailhead. You do NOT need a 4WD High Clearance vehicle. A civic and a VW made it to the trailhead. Just take your time going up. Went up late and got to the 4th of July Mines by night fall, several people camped here and I was told this is the best place for a bail out camp if necessary. We did just that and it is BEAUTIFUL. Hike up to Arapahoe Pass is not that far, we went down and camped Caribou Lake and I must say this was just epic. No camp fires in this area, but if you go further down the Arapahoe Tail into the Arapahoe Forest, its dispersed camping and camp fires are allowed...still need a camping permit though. Throughout the weekend, the trail was dry and there were lots of people. High bear activity signs posted but didnt run into anything. oh, bring bug spray..those mosquitoes are NASTY!!!

Great hike, tons of wild flowers, saw a moose, saw a buck, trail really well maintained. Lake at the top is gorgeous. It was pretty busy. Be prepared for weather to change. And lots of mosquitoes when you take a break.

hiking
4 months ago

Epic trail! Beautiful wildflowers and nice streams made the trip worth it. We brought chemical free bug spray and avoided bites from the many mosquitoes. Would recommend.

Hiked up to Columbine lake on 7/30/19. Outstanding hike. Trail was completely dry. The majority of the trail is a very moderate grade, with a .7 mile steeper section as you climb up to the shelf on which the lake rests. Tons of mosquitoes at the lake, so bring DEET and/or long sleeves. Several streams cross the path along the way which was great for our dog, I didn’t need to carry water for him.

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

We did this as an overnight backpacking trip (7/19). Took us about 3 hours to get up with our packs. Be prepared to be swarmed with bugs!! We went through almost a whole can of spray and still got bite . You can have a fire at night and that helped a lot but they come out bright and early in the morning. Pretty spot by the lake though!

hiking
4 months ago

We hiked it today 7/15 - it is definitely still damp up there so there were mosquitos and a bit of mud. I would recommended bug spray if you are hiking this trail in the next week or so. The trail is pretty moderate - quite easy for the first 2 miles and then more of a climb for the last mile up. The lake is really pretty! I would do it again when the bugs are gone. The highlight was the moose we spotted on the way down.

Trail was easier than rated but still beautiful, and we had the lake to ourselves! More than half the hike is canopied yet the trail is mostly dry— I wore barefoot shoes with no problem. The road to the trailhead is manageable without 4wd.

Best hike of my life

hiking
4 months ago

7/7/19 Road open. made it in my off-road civic lol.. mile before columbine lake was a little tricky to follow the trail because of snow drifts. All-trails app helped us fine our way. my hiking boots were soaked by the end. Saw 3 moose and breath taking views, it’s a great time to go if you don’t mind a little snow.

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