Explore the most popular nature trips trails near Westcliffe with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

A really cool trail and an awesome place to go backpacking. Stay there a few nights and go to each of the three lakes.

hiking
2 days ago

We hiked this trail 5/12/2018 via the Gibson Creek Trailhead and made it to the lower lake. Towards the beginning of the trail, we saw Henry Tjhie, and he told us we wouldn't need our snowshoes. The mud and snow depth then was manageable in boots and there were only a handful of places where we had to walk across snow, many of which are probably melted by now. The frozen waterfall was very neat. Just before the lake, there was a large snow field, and we only sunk into the snow in a few spots. Saw less than 10 people the entire time, so it was very peaceful. The large, wide creek crossing was doable with a couple large logs to walk across, even with all the snow run-off. It was slow going for most of the trail since there are LOTS of downed trees, creating all kinds of obstacles, some of which you have to wander off the trail to go around. Lots of birds in the area. It was neat seeing a ptarmigan once on the way up and once on the way back in about the same spot. It was very windy at the lake, so much that it was creating waves, something we had never seen in the backcountry. We spent a while trying to figure out how to get to the upper lakes. We tried going around on the right side of the lake, but no luck. We did, however, spot a bunch of fish in some of the ponds behind the lake on the right side. We realized later that the trail to the upper lakes goes around on the left side via some logs over part of the lake; the trail was difficult to see because of heavily overgrown bushes. Even though the lake was beautiful and serene, only giving this trail 3 stars because of all the downed trees, difficulty route finding to the upper lakes, and lack of views on the way up.

Just did this trail. It’s pretty rugged I’m talking very rocky areas all throughout that will give your feet, ankles and legs a huge workout. The snow is melting fast and there’s a lot of run off. The snow mounds that remain are deep I’ve slipped into a few and the snow went past my knees and there was a broken tree hidden inside one which gave me a nasty scratch about two inch cut on my lower leg. So be careful!! The trail is also unkept, fallen trees liter the path forcing you to find creative ways around them. But that view at the end. My god. Amazing.

backpacking
20 days ago

Not what I would describe as an easy hike, however, incredibly rewarding. VERY steep in places especially from tree line to the first peak. From that point on elevation change is very manageable but there is a lot of scrambling over rocks. Our group is from Kansas so thin air was a challenge and we did fight some altitude sickness. Nonetheless, our group aged 40, 17, 16, 11 made it to the top and back with minimal trouble. Trail head to summit took us 7 hours and descent took 4 hours. Just below tree line we did have to battle some snow. Finding the trail reentering tree line was a bit difficult but I was warned about that so we just took our time.

hiking
20 days ago

I went up to the lake a couple days ago 5-4-18. I took the regular route (not swift creek, the signage is not so confusing once you understand there are 2 routes up to lake of the clouds) There was a fair amount of waist deep snow drifts 1/2 way up, it took me 4 hours, but I believe it will be "ready" or normal within a few weeks. BTW saw 2 bears right below the snow line (they were not aggressive at all) bring protection if hiking alone or in a small group. I didn't see another person the whole hike, true solitude. The last half is all snow but totally doable if you have the patience, seems to be rapidly melting.

lost our dog Lindsey. trained pitbull grey with white belly with stand up ears and was wearing a brown jacket. if found please post a comment saying she's found

hiking
27 days ago

Beautiful trail, I went up to the lakes yesterday 4/28. After venable falls the trail is snowed out most of the way. I used alltrails offline maps & the sound of venable creek to navigate up to the lakes.

on Lakes of the Clouds

1 month ago

Totally worth the hike!!! will definantly be back to this one but this time with plans to camp at the top.

So beautiful! We did this hike in November and the frozen waterfalls were awesome!

on Lakes of the Clouds

6 months ago

normally a moderate hike. 3/4 of the hike was over snow. Definitely a trying hike but absolutely beautiful. took 5 hours in and right at 3 hours back. well definitely try to make it again before too much accumulation. our 6 year old hiked it like a champ.

epic. saw elk. Aspens were yellow and great did it in about 4 weeks ago. lakes were clear and amazing. snow on the peaks.

fishing
7 months ago

epic trail, the lakes area is incredible. some snow at the peaks. colors of autumn, saw 2 bull elk near beginning.

Wonderful and strenuous hike just outside of Westcliffe. The peak is 10 miles round trip from the Trailhead including sections of the Rainbow trail that lead to the actual Horn Peak trail. Extremely steep in several sections, including the first mile or so of the Horn Peak trail, as well as the climb just beyond the tree line. As you exit the tree line, continue about 100m and any evidence of the trail will seem to end. Look left directly toward the ridge line and you will see a cairn marking the way. Make your way to the ridge and watch your footing as you hug the south side of the ridge going to the peak. Many sections of scrambling/crawling with no evidence of a trail. Enjoy the reward of beautiful views at the top and as always keep an eye towards the sky and don't get caught above the tree line if severe weather moves in. Elevation gain from the trailhead to peak is 4580'.

hiking
8 months ago

Drove up until we were about 6 miles from the top and then parked the jeep. Hiked up another mile or so and then back down. Very rocky, but a beautiful walk.

8 months ago

lots of rocks rough but fun and beautiful area

hiking
8 months ago

The trailhead shown on the map is actually the Gibson Creek trailhead. at the termination of County Road 172 (Not hermit Road which hits Rainbow trail much further south. Hermit road is a continuation of County Road 160. The best description of the trail directions is at the San Isabel National Forest website.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=12756&actid=50

backpacking
8 months ago

Awesome hike up to the lake. I recommend camping below or near the lake then summit the following morning and you're nearly guaranteed to be the first one to the peak in the morning. Avoid summiting between 11am and 2pm as weather moves in fast and there are few places to hide above the saddle. You will get struck by lightning if you're up there in a storm. I personally got snowed on on July 4th. So either summit in the morning and be heading down around 10 am or wait till afternoon storms pass. Easy hike up to the switchbacks. Once up the saddle you have to navigate a couple thousand feet up a rock field. Make sure to stay to the right when ascending even though left looks to be the best way. While ascending you will think your almost there but no. Once you reach the false peak it's another 300 yards maybe. Bring a pencil to sign the geocache. Enjoy the view. Don't feed the marmot.

hiking
9 months ago

My friend and I hiked this and it is a nice hike, but maybe not my favorite in this area. You spend most of the time plodding through deep forest with no good views. The last part is waist high plants with beautiful flowers, but once again, not much in the way of those "ahhhh" views. We stopped at the first lake with is pretty. There are some really steep parts with lots of loose rocks/gravel/sand which makes it treacherous coming back down. Lots and lots of ankle twisting fist sized rocks covering the trail from top to bottom. For the same exertion but far more payoff in prettier views, do the Venable hike instead of this one.

backpacking
9 months ago

3 stars because: the last 1-2 miles of trail are heavily overgrown, if there has been rain or you are hiking in the a.m. get ready to be soaked from the waist down.

Secondly, the last mile is VERY steep, so steep that pack dockeys could not ascend!! we talked to people who had to rig up a pully system to get their donkey through some particularly steep/muddy sections...NEEDS SWITCHBACKS...they were very worried about the descent so warning to people with livestock!!!

Lastly, there is literally one legal fire pit near the lakes so if you like traditional camping with a fire, you may or may not get lucky. Real estate for backpackers is slim unless you're an ultralighter and dont need much space or you bring a hammock. Very steep walls lead into the lakes, it is exhausting getting from one to the other.

also, we had hail in the evening and lots of frost in the morning! woo hoo

backpacking
9 months ago

Backpacked up to Goodwin Lakes with my pup. The hike is heavily wooded until you actually get to the lakes. The first two lakes are still below tree line for the most part but there is a path that goes up to the upper lake that has a great view and a nice waterfall. No fire pits up there but still a nice place. Overall a good hike and an okay place to spend the night.

hiking
10 months ago

Got stuck in a hail storm all the way down, but the views are totally worth it.

hiking
10 months ago

Wrote a detailed blog post. You can read it here http://wp.me/p7ZycW-2l :)

Beautiful scenery, and I guess "moderate" is accurate, but they didn't give it that rating with 62 year old guys in mind. Consistent climb over rocky terrain and easy to miss the trail on the downhill leg. Trail marker at base of Rainbow Trail by my gps and my body was totally in accurate. From Gibson trail head, this is a 9-10 mile round trip.

The route shown on this app, is not the best route in my opinion. There is a route if you turn left (walking from the parking lot, to the trail on the app) following the Forest service signs, that is shorter and more scenic. I went up on the shorter route, and back on the longer route. The longer route has nothing to recommend it, again this is the route shown in the app, as it bypasses both of the impressive waterfalls I enjoyed on the way up, and the added mileage is almost entirely on an ATV track that is not particularly scenic.

hiking
10 months ago

first half mile is difficult then levels out for easy climb through Aspen's. the last mile or so is climbing through forest but falls are beautiful. if you go another 100 yards past falls there is a great overlook if the valley.

Great day, beautiful hike. Saw only 2 other hikers.

Great hike with even better views, try and make it to the lakes.

backpacking
10 months ago

How bad were the mosquitos?

Great hike, did this mid week and didn't see another hiker. There is a touch of snow just before you reach the Lakes but nothing horrible.

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