Lakes of the Clouds is a 10.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Westcliffe, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and backpacking and is best used from April until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.6 miles Elevation Gain: 2,578 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

walking

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

snow

no shade

Directions from : Take Hermit Road west out of Westcliffe to where the jeep road intersects the Rainbow Trail. The sign is hard to find. It is off to the right on the north side of the road, after you get into the trees. Park along the road.

hiking
6 days ago

The Lake in the Clouds was SO pretty! The lakes were simply Astonishing. It was a solid incline the whole way but wasn’t the worst thing ever. Good news is you don’t need any gear because there isn’t any snow. Only bummer was the bugs at the top. Great hike at the end of the day with gorgeous views, totally worth it. GO DO IT follow @harris_hikers on IG

hiking
7 days ago

Stunning hike, did it on 05/28/20. Starting from the Gibson trailhead you will reach the intersection of 3 trails after about 200 yards, take the trail to your right( go north), then you will pass a meadow from where you can see the gorgeous view of the valley on your right. After the meadow, you will see sign for lake of the clouds trail. We took the steeper and shorter trail to the left called swift creek trail, but honestly it was not difficult at all. Be careful about the rocks on the trail as they can give sprained ankle. Just before the 1st lake there was about 3 feet snow. The 2nd lake is immediately after the 1st lake. The 3rd lake can be a little difficult to find, but you will get there. We ate lunch at the 3rd lake. It took about 5 hours for us for the entire hike. Be sure to take at least 1 liter of water with you.

hiking
rocky
7 days ago

Hiked this yesterday on 5/27/20 with our dog, and it was exceptional! As mentioned below, park at the Gibson trailhead. The sign is broken and leaning against a tree. Take the sharp right! We skipped the harder Swift Creek route, and opted for the easier 4.5 mile trail. Also didn’t want our pup to have to endure the rock scramble that this route has.. The easier lake trail has a large welded sign that says “Motor Vehicles Prohibited”. The trail is rocky throughout. So be mindful of your footwear! You will encounter what is advertised, and it’s a steady incline all the way to the top. This trail is very well maintained and easy to discern. The middle section of the trail was actually pretty level for a mile and a half or so, which was a nice break from the elevation gain. Absolutely gorgeous trail with lots of tree coverage. There was a 20 yard long patch of snow right before the lake, but it was easy to get across. A gorgeous lake awaits at the top! Be prepared for weather, as the temp dropped and rained some at the lake. Gorgeous time of year to go! Bring sufficient water and snacks. Don’t forget to bring water for your pups as well! The way down was a breeze, but a 10 mile round trip hike shouldn’t be taken lightly! Enjoy!

hiking
8 days ago

FOUND - iPhone with blue “zagg” case found at the first lake - message me if it might be yours! (Czaniboni13@gmail.com) Also, the hike was incredible.

hiking
10 days ago

Hiked on 5/22/2020, great trail conditions. Only about 30 feet of snow to walk through at the very top - don’t let the reviews about snow stop you! We only went to the first lake but it was beautiful. Took the shorter route up, took about 2.5 hours. Very tough incline, but so worth the views along the way and at the top. Missed our turn on the way down so took the long route down, which took about 3.5 hours. The trails aren’t marked very well. Challenging altitude for us midwesterners but would definitely recommend!

hiking
13 days ago

Perfect sunny day 5/22/20. Did this as a day hike. Started 0800 from Gibson Crk TH and took the long way up via Rainbow -> Lakes trail. All uphill but mostly gradual. Very well maintained. Lots of tree cover. Great bridge over the creek. Past the Swift Crk junction the trails gets rocky and steeper. Only a bit of snow to walk through this day. The first lake is stunning, snowy peaks and crystal clear water. The second lake didn’t impress me as much, but still beautiful. Didn’t go up to the third lake. I chose the Swift Crk trail to descend which is +/- 1.4 miles shorter, but that trail really sux, steep and very rocky, killed my feet and legs, but I’m an old guy so YMMV. A bit long for a day hike, but I’ll probably do it again :-) Recommended!!

hiking
off trail
rocky
snow
14 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

ok let's clear this up for the first timers. Signage is poor and unclear. Park at Gibson trailhead. Walk a minute or 2 to the hike entrance. Now you have a few choices. The sign is broken. Go right!! (Ps if you instead go straight prepare to find a broken/blocked trail) ok so you went right. Now next decision is about a half mile. Left is swift creek trail (shorter, more strenuous) or straight. Lake of the clouds trail! (1.5 longer but also a beautiful hike) IMPORTANT note about swift creek trail there is a point where you have to cross the creek and if it's on the way down the mountain, it's not clear if you're supposed to cross there. If you don't cross you'll continue on as the trail slowly fades to you wondering if you're on the trail anymore. Have fun! 3 to 5 hours to the lake.

hiking
19 days ago

Great hike! Went early in the morning, took our pup with us. Make sure you stay to the right at the first few miles of the hike; part of your trail will be going over a creek.

hiking
19 days ago

Wife and 3 pups went up Friday afternoon and stayed the night. Woke up this morning and hiked up to the other two lakes after setting up camp at the lower lake. At the bottom of the trail, go to the right and don’t follow the broken sign that says to go straight past the cabin. It was a little hiccup for us. We went up the Swift Creek Trail. It is steeper at the beginning, but it’s a little shorter and meets up with Lakes of the Clouds trail about a mile from the lower lake. You do have to cross the creek on this trail, but was manageable and we had 3 dogs. Beautiful waterfall on this trail as well down off the left side when going up. Also, closer to the lower lake there is a frozen waterfall still which was gorgeous. Weather was perfect. The trail to the two upper lakes is patchy because of snow covering some of the trail. I wouldn’t set up camp anywhere past the lower lake for a couple more weeks. Everywhere around the upper two lakes is either snowy or wet/muddy from melting snow. Beautiful hike and camping spot!

hiking
snow
25 days ago

Early May was too optimistic for this trail. Last mile to the lake was non-stop post holing in knee to thigh deep isothermal snow. Early morning approach would be better as you could walk on top of the snowpack, but we punched through and it left our boots soaked. Realistically July for a dry trip at the earliest. The lake is spectacular, scenic and remote. Winds can be heavy and the elevation is real, so be sure your tent is up for a potential workout! We had sustained 30-40 mph winds most of the night. Heard owls and howling, it was a high lonesome adventure.

backpacking
8 months ago

Incredible trip! A five mile in and five mile out hike sandwiched two nights at the lakes. Day hiking to the different lakes and a nice hike above the waterfall that is above the second lake allows beautiful views! There are plenty of camping sites. We brought a pup for her first camping trip and she loved it the most I think!

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Missed the turn off for the lakes so I added a solid 2 miles to my trip but otherwise it’s a great hike good views pretty much start about 3 miles up and continue to the lakes. Be prepared for that last 1.5 miles it gets steep rocky and muddy. But the payoff is definitely worth it. Kind of a lot for a day trip I think next time I’m gonna camp out at the lakes there’s plenty of great spots for that up there and along the trails.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful trail! Rocky trail through beautiful forests. we only checked out the first two lakes, and they are gorgeous. Next time we’ll go sooner so we can enjoy at the top longer. We had no issues with mosquitoes this time of year.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

We hiked this trail on 8/12/2019. Lakes of the Clouds trail is part of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness trail system. The Gibson Creek trail head is not hard to find and there is a nice parking lot right by the trail head itself. From the parking lot, hike up about 100 yards to the Rainbow Trail (Trail 1336). The rainbow trail is a long trail that many other trails depart from. Go Right (North) on the rainbow trail. After 1/2 mile you will come to the Swift Creek Trail (Trail 1351). Stay straight on the rainbow trail. In another mile you will come to the Lake of the Clouds trail (Trail 1349). Go left (West) on this trail and follow it all the way to the top.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Soo many wild flowers!! Don’t skimp out and not hike to all 3 lakes, each one offers something else! 2nd lake is by far the best, so that’s where we set up camp. Tons of fish! Would do again!

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike. Easy road to the trailhead. Generally you are covered by aspen or pine trees. There is only one tiny creek crossing. Bring bug spray for mosquitoes at the lakes! The fish were very active, they were jumping up all day and you could see them near the shore. It got very windy at night, but the temperature stayed relatively warm. We only saw a handful of people while there too.

hiking
9 months ago

Long beautiful trail. Most of the hike is pretty gradual but gets steeper for the last mile or 2, very doable. The 3 lakes are very worth the hike!

backpacking
10 months ago

Soo so beautiful! Long, uphill hike the whole way but there are a lot of shaded sections to keep out of the sun. Many people said the trailhead and beginning of trail was hard to find, but we didn’t have any problem. Definitely watch your step on the rocky sections, rolled my ankle twice and that made for a long descent. We took lake of the clouds trail the entire time and didn’t try Swift Creek. Many wonderful campsites to choose from at the lakes - we camped at the first.

backpacking
bugs
rocky
10 months ago

Once again an incredible trip. Spent 2 nights at the upper 3rd lake. Managed to catch and release a couple small cutthroats but the fish have never been this difficult to catch in the years I have visited. Spoke with a local at the parking lot and he said he had never seen so much traffic in many years.. as places like this become popular, be thoughtful. Leave no trace is the ONLY way to go. Pack it in, pack it out. Keep Mother Nature natural. If everyone does their part, AND some, places like this will be enjoyed by everyone for years and years... regardless of how much traffic there is. If you don’t do your part, remember you’re ruining it for everybody else, and generations to come. Our planet is unique in the way that it is resilient; harboring camping trips, pitched tents, millions of footsteps, even the occasional picked flower or cooked trout. What it cannot and doesn’t handle/tolerate is the littering, constant hacking of trees for firewood, Over-keeping of fish, rummaging off the beaten path, etc. Be mindful. Think of these places as if 1,000 more people were doing the same exact thing you are doing throughout the summer months. Would it last? Would it look the same if you came back next year? Know how to respect the outdoors. Enjoy the outdoors. ✌

hiking
10 months ago

Would call this a "hard" trail even if you don't have a heavy pack on. Consistently upghill and rocky, so bring good footwear AND DEET!

horseback riding
rocky
10 months ago

This trail was well worth the time we had been waiting to do it! There are definitely some parts that would be quiet challenging for a beginner horse or rider to navigate, especially toward the top where it is a bit of "scrambling" for the horses to have to find the right footing in between and on large rocks that make up most of the trail. Savvy trail horses and riders would not have problems with this trail (I personally was a hot mess coming down the trail because I get anxious that we will fall a$$ over tea kettle if my horse slips, but she didn't!). There was a tiny bit of snow at the highest elevation we reached (first lake, 11,500ft), but otherwise the climb and distance was well worth it. We did not ride Swift Creek trail in either direction due to flooding in the area from recent storms (we felt this trail could have been washed out so we avoided it).

backpacking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
rocky
10 months ago

Trail is very rocky but the view from the top made it all worth it! some blow downs but not terrible. The mosquitoes were TERRIBLE! Take some bug repellent for sure.

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