Rainbow Lakes

Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

Elevation Gain367ft
Trailhead Elevation9,978ft
Elevation Min/Max9978/10273ft
Elevation Start/End9978/9978ft

Rainbow Lakes

Rainbow Lakes is a hiking trail in Boulder County, Colorado. It is within Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and Roosevelt National Forest. It is 0.9 miles long and begins at 9,978 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 367 feet. The 6, 9, 8, 5, and 7 camp sites are near the trailhead.

Rainbow Lakes Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Hikes Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness (Falcon Guides)
Kent Dannen
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"Observation of Rainbow Lakes demonstrates that lakes are ephemeral features of the landscape. From the trailhead at the entrance to Rainbow Lake Campground, it is a half-mile hike to the nearest lake. The trail passes through limber pine/Douglas fir forest above campsites that each comes equipped, significantly, with its own bear-proof locker. A sign at the campground entrance warns against hanging hummingbird feeders, which seemingly do double duty, attracting bears as well as hummers. The hummingbirds that otherwise would entertain campers would include broad-tailed hummingbirds joined in August by rufous hummingbirds headed south after mating." Read more
Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park (Wilderness Press)
Alan Apt and Kay Turnbaugh
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"The four small Rainbow Lakes are in a spectacular high-mountain setting nestled next to the soaring tundra, glacier-carved Caribou ridgeline. The real treat is the view from the lakes, plus there’s good fishing if the thunder isn’t rolling. The Arapaho Glacier Overlook Trail is more challenging but an even more stunning spectacle. These trails and the campground are heavily used in the summer. The area melts out, and dries out, later in the summer (July/August) in an average snow year because of the elevation. Bring insect repellent." Read more

Rainbow Lakes Reviews

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Took my dog on this hike. The lakes are not super easy to access from the trail, and the lakes themselves were somewhat stagnant (in August). The rocky bottoms on the all but one of the lakes are super uneven for a dog to run around safely. There are places where the drop-off between the rocks caused my dog to almost dunk completely under water when she wasn't expecting it because in the previous step, she was on a rock where the water was only inches deep. I was afraid her foot would get caught and I would have to go rescue her. Plus, there were people fishing in each lake with little kids, so it was somewhat rude for me to let my dog go plunging in. Nice hike, but not a good 'take my dog for a swim' situation.

Rainbow Lakes Photos

Trail Information

Roosevelt National Forest
Nearby City
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Additional Use
USDA Forest Service, Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder CO 80301; (303) 541-2500; fs.usda.gov/arp
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated Indian Peaks Gold Hill; USGS Ward
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018