Rainbow Lakes Trail

EASY 149 reviews
#8 of 112 trails in

Rainbow Lakes Trail is a 2.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
2.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
334 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wildlife

Series of 9 connected lakes and beaver ponds that lie in a broad flat beneath the Continental Divide. These well-stocked lakes are popular with anglers, and the easy hike in is well-suited for families and backpackers.

hiking
1 hour ago

hiking
2 days ago

On a whim I was looking for something relatively short with some elevation gain since I just moved to Denver and hunting season will soon be upon us. Driving there was pretty easy as the road looks like it was just graded this spring or early summer. don't get going too fast or your tail end will try to come around! There's a five mile dirt road approach that looks highly seasonal, but is fine for all but the lowest cars if you're careful and avoid the potholes and go slowly over washboarding.

The hike itself is nice and relatively gentle elevation gain. I'd recommend some trekking poles for the rocky path you have to take, or perhaps just some sturdy ankle support wielding boots. I'd absolutely come back here, it looks like the trail goes further than the last lake but I didn't have a GPS and it began to look like a goat path. For another day then.

backpacking
5 days ago

Lot was full by 10am but we squeezed on the road. We read there wasn’t many backpacking spots - and I found maybe 3, but were too close to water or the trail. We found if you go past (between) the final lakes and keep going (careful, the trails spur and we got turned around), you follow a stream on your right after 1/2 mi to approx 3 sites spread by a few hundred feet. It was a good first backpacking trip for my 7yo. There was plenty of water, moderate temps, and while we saw a bunch of bugs, only really got one or two bites. We encountered a cow moose about 30 feet off the trail about half way up!

I think technically this is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and you need a permit in summer, but, sorry, it is ridiculous to print a form and mail a $5 check or to go to the office. Let me do it online. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=80803

hiking
5 days ago

Overall it's not a trail I'd be super excited to get back to or take anyone to, but it was a nice short hike with shade most of the way. The final lakes/ponds are pretty with some views of the surrounding ridges. The lakes are small with quite a few people crowded around fishing or lounging. The first lake you pass is mosquito heaven and pretty yucky.

28 days ago

it's pretty and very easy. perfect for a quick morning hike. The lakes can get pretty crowded with people trying yo fish.

hiking
1 month ago

Very easy did this hike mid-July. We stayed at the campground the night before which was nice. Free sites were also along the road. Vault toilets at the trailhead. Nicely shaded trail. We just wish there was a better spot near the lake for our dog to jump in and cool off. This parking lot was PACKED by noon so plan accordingly.

backpacking
1 month ago

Road was fine for my 2door hatchback with standard clearance. sporadic potholes but they are easy to straddle.
A sweet little hike. I wouldn't suggest it for backpacking because it's very short (my GPS says less than 2miles) and there aren't many places to go off trail to camp without messing up a restoration area or camping g in the middle of an animal trail. I use a bivy sac and it was still difficult to find a good spot.
SO many mosquitos-- bring bug spray for real.
If you're looking for a fun spot to mess around in small lakes and not have to hike too far from camp this is perfect. Pretty pines and aspens and a few glimpses of a pretty mountain but no wide vistas. It's a very easy hike if you're looking for a short nature woodsy walk without building up too much of a sweat this is a good trail for you.
There's access to Arapahoe Glacier Trail from this Trailhead and if I'd had time I would've turned around and done that instead. That is probably an amazing hike to a wide vista very close by and if you'll be at the campground a while you could goall the way to Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy in a day if you left early.

1 month ago

I brought my dog. I’m new at this hiking stuff and I found the trail good for a newbie. It was kinda short but it had some great views,

1 month ago

Very nice, easy trial to a series of lakes. Great for kids, families, dogs- everyone! Rocky trail at certain points, but not hard to navigate. Stunning views of the mountains and nearby glacier from the last lake.
Bring your mosquito repellant- they are out in full effect once you get closer to water.

nature trips
1 month ago

6/17. road was open to trailhead; Caribou 4x4 road was still closed. campground was full. If you are careful you can get a sedan to the trailhead, don't necessarily need clearance. Super easy hike. Beautiful series of lakes with Arapahoe glacier and the divide as a backdrop

fishing
1 month ago

Open and already busy - easy hike and pretty; fishing was mediocre from shore with not great access, would be better wading.

2 months ago

Still closed as of 6/8.

2 months ago

Is this open for summer yet?

2 months ago

Road still closed 6/3

2 months ago

when does the road open for the summer?

4 months ago

Road is closed!

hiking
10 months ago

Loved this hike!! Saw 4 of the lakes the fourth was definitely the best, incredible views!! The trail was challenging in some areas because of the rocks but worth it!

hiking
10 months ago

Went up on Saturday 10/14 and it was a beautiful sunny day up until you get to the mountain. It started to snow as soon as we started on the trail but it really made for a lovely hike. Only saw 5 other people in the trail, 3 hikers and 2 fishing. It’s beautiful in the snow but it falls quick so if you are not careful you can lose the trail pretty quickly. I still recommend doing the hike even in the snow but I wouldn’t go alone unless you are an experienced hiker just for the snow reasons. It was all in all a great day.

hiking
10 months ago

Not heavily trafficked today, at least! beautiful autumnal hike. easy, but rough enough terrain that I was glad I brought my hiking sticks. Also dog friendly, yes, but hand held leash required on trail

fishing
11 months ago

Fish were jumping everywhere could not get them to bite

hiking
11 months ago

Relatively easy trail, with some rocky areas. You have to drive about 5 miles down CR 116, which is narrow and rough, to get to the trailhead. Campground nearby looks nice. We saw several people fishing, and multiple families with smaller children. Not many great views, but still a good hike through the woods.

hiking
11 months ago

Short and sweet. the trail isn't very crowded despite all the people that camp nearby. The lakes are definitely worth checking out, they are very serene and quiet and like mirrors, plus I saw a large elk herd on one of the peaks.

11 months ago

Super short trail. Not a whole lot to look at. Overall, pretty boring.

hiking
11 months ago

Great short hike. Doesn't take you to the peaks, have to do Arapaho Glacier Trail for that. Nicely wooded trail that has a decent payoff at the top. End of August and there was plenty of water along the trail for the dog.

11 months ago

Camp site is impeccable.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Easy, beautiful. Made for a perfect quick, morning hike.

backpacking
Thursday, August 03, 2017

Beautiful lakes mark this excellent trail. Well worth the dirt-road drive in. Some of the climbs are pretty rocky, but there are a couple of fun creek crossings to make it worthwhile. Gorgeous mountain vistas. Do it!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

easy and pretty!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I found this trail a bit challenging, but only due to the altitude. Pretty, easy to follow trail. The first lake was more of a pond and the second lake was only a bit larger. They were both still quite nice, but not as dramatic as you might expect from mountain lakes. Make sure to bring bug spray as they are plentiful by the lakes.

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Well-marked trail through high forest to mountain lakes. It took about 40 minutes to hike to the second lake, but the trail goes back further to more lakes. Will definitely hike here again!

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