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A great trail in the Zirkel Wilderness that runs past Rainbow and Slide Lakes.

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Point to Point

11,366' 3,464 m


8,745' 2,666 m


2,843' 867 m


223' 68 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

No motorized vehicles (e.g. ATVs) or bicycles within the Mount Zirkel Widerness.


Trail #1130 runs from the Rainbow Lake trailhead to its junction with the Wyoming Trail #1101 (Continental Divide Trail). The trailhead's elevation is 9,080 feet. From the trailhead, the trail starts through a mixed forest with moderate to severe lodgepole pine beetle kill. Many of these trees have been cut down.

The trail will cross the Grizzly Helena Trail #1126 and bicycles are not allowed in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. At this point, the trail will narrow into well-maintained singletrack following a ridgeline. The views get better and better as the trail steadily gains elevation. The iconic rock formation Rabbit Ears will be visible in the distance to the south. The other interesting thing to notice is that almost all the trees to the south are aspen and all the trees to the north are conifers. The trail almost perfectly splits the two.

About two miles in, the trail will leave the ridge and run along the northern slope. You'll come across a stream crossing that is easy to navigate (at least in August). Lower and Middle Rainbow Lake will be to your right but you'll not see them. At roughly three miles in, the trail will flatten out and Rainbow Lake will come into view. The trail skirts the lake to the south and you'll have to leave the trail in order the explore the lake.

At the western end of the lake, you'll cross Norris Creek. It can be difficult to find the path as many crossing have been created but look for the start of switchbacks once you cross. The trail is more difficult from this point on. After the switchbacks the trail will skirt Slide and Lower Slide Lakes. Once again you'll have to leave the trail to explore the Slide Lake. The trail to Upper Slide Like goes through meadows and patches for forest.

After Upper Slide Lake there are more switchbacks. The trail is now at and above the tree line. Cairns will mark the trail. The Roxy Ann Lake Trail will veer off to the right after about one mile from Upper Slide Lake. Continue until the trail interests with the Wyoming Trail (#1101). The peak elevation of the trail is approximately 11,350 feet.


Shared By:

Rafi Wilkinson with improvements by TEKLA TAYLOR

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
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in Colorado


14 Views Last Month
14,613 Since Feb 10, 2016



The shore of Upper Rainbow Lake.
Feb 10, 2016 near Steambo…, CO
Getting close to Rainbow Lake. Always great to see snow in the summer.
Feb 10, 2016 near Steambo…, CO
Upper Rainbow Lake looking down the valley.
Feb 10, 2016 near Steambo…, CO
A waterfall cascades between the two lakes.
Jul 10, 2017 near Steambo…, CO
The sun rises over camp on the Rainbow Lake Trail.
Jul 10, 2017 near Steambo…, CO
Looking at Middle Rainbow Lake in the distance.
Feb 10, 2016 near Steambo…, CO



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jul 3, 2022
Ciara Quigley
boggy conditions up next to slide lake and all towards the divide. Lots of river crossings and trees down on the trail. Great hike if you put work in
Jun 27, 2021
Cindi Hillemeyer
Jun 30, 2016
Jake Baechle
The USFS Parks Ranger District cleared this trail of all downed trees on July 1, 2016. There was still stretches of snow between Upper Slide Lake a...