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Rainbow Lakes

  4.6 ( 8 ) Favorite


2.5 mile 4.0 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 293' 89 m
Descent: -293' -89 m
High: 10,260' 3,127 m
Low: 9,967' 3,038 m


Avg Grade: 4% (3°)
Max Grade: 11% (7°)


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Trail shared by Sarah Baker

A short, pleasant hike through pine forest past multiple alpine lakes.

Sarah Baker

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked

Family Friendly This easy hike is great for kids! There are multiple lakes to stop along the way. It is also popular for first time backpackers who want to see what backpacking is all about.

Permits are required for overnight camping from June 1 - September 15.


This popular hike is easily accessible for all, especially families and beginner backpackers who are looking for an easily accessible target. The trail gently climbs to pass a few of the nine lakes and beaver ponds that are scattered around the area.


The trail starts at the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead and immediately enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness as it starts the gentle climb towards Rainbow Lakes. The trail passes through dense forest as it skirts above the campground before passing the Arapaho Glacier Trail.

From there, it climbs along a small drainage on the way to the first of the Rainbow Lakes. Once at the first lake, the terrain gets rockier, but the trail doesn't deteriorate. Continue towards the multiple lakes and beaver ponds ahead through marshy meadows and a small creek crossing. Ahead, climb over a rock pile to get to the last lakes. The lake to the north of the trail presents awesome views towards the higher Indian Peaks.

A couple campsites are located around the last lakes at the end of the trail. Make sure to bring your fishing rod and license to enjoy the great angler territory.

Not all nine lakes are accessible by the main trail. Some people have made small paths to some of the other lakes which are not frequently visited.

Flora & Fauna

This area is popular for moose. Be careful, especially during mating season (fall) when the bulls are extra aggressive. The tall reeds and brush in the marshes can make moose hard to spot even when they're close (from personal experience, they have snuck up on me!).

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Sep 2, 2019
Sean Eaton
Labor Day hike with kids. 1.5mi
Aug 18, 2019
Tyler Ditto
Aug 9, 2019
Brian Huber
Jul 28, 2019
Raluca B
Family hike 4.2mi
Jul 14, 2019
lindsey n.
Jul 7, 2019
David Lucas
Sep 20, 2018
Christine Homan
Sep 1, 2018
Sean Okonsky
hike was nice. there is a campground right where the trail starts. the guy in charge of the campground said to watch out for moose and bears but we…

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 8 votes


in Nederland


  4.6 from 8 votes
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