Lakes of the Clouds

Westcliffe, Colorado 81252

Lakes of the Clouds

Lakes of the Clouds Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"High lakes in a broad valley with access to Spread Eagle Peak and Mount Marcy. From the parking area, hike to the right of the private cabin, then along the fence line, west to the intersection with the Rainbow Trail (1336). Turn right (north) and follow the gentle trail through open meadows overlooking the Wet Mountain Valley and up a gradual climb to the Lakes of the Clouds Trail (1351).

(Note: This trailhead is not the trail shown on older USGS maps. The trail [1349] shown climbing up the north side of the valley from the Rainbow Trail is 0.4 mile farther north.) Turn left on this first trail (1351), which runs up the left (south) side of the Swift Creek valley through open meadows and past small beaver ponds with views of Spread Eagle Peak
on the left."

Lakes of the Clouds Reviews

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Great weekend hike/camp. More strenuous going up than some of the reports led us to believe (steep and rocky) but well worth it. Took us 3.5 hours to hike up. Lots of camping spots in the trees around the lower lake. We saw people camping around the middle lake, but it looked like you'd be sleeping on a slope...not my favorite. Fishing was great on all three lakes. We had the best luck early morning and late afternoon on the lower lake...bigger fish. The small creeks connecting the lakes were also full of hungry trout.
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Continue hiking up and you can find a really cool waterfall with an AMAZING vista, and also a ridge climb for the truly adventurous. Didn't spend too much time on the first lake until the day we hiked out from our higher camp, but it was cool. Second lake offered great sight fishing. Truly though, all of the lakes offer exceptional sight fishing opportunities. The third lake is fun to fish, walk around, and has a really neat looking rock shelf. Good place to spend a day or two, or just camp. Trout liked spider flys a lot, and kastmaster's. This trail can be really tough for out of towners. For example, I'm from Chicago, and to me this definitely qualified as a black diamond. Drawback, when it's wet, the horseprints in many areas can be a pain to deal with. Rocky and steep, climbing 2,400 vertical feet over five miles at 10,000 feet; can't wait to bite off a bit more next Summer :)
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This is a beautiful hike to three wonderful lakes. It is a bit steep and rocky. There are two routes, so you can do it as a loop. One route is a little longer, but less steep or rocky.
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The trail offers a great view of several lakes at timberline. Pleathora of wildflowers are noticable throughout the trip, especially near the lakes. At about the 2.5 miles into the trail and after you cross the creek, a waterfall is noticed left of the trail. Although it is heavily covered with vegatation, it still noticeable and very nice to enjoy. The trail is great for a beginner backpacker wanting to get into a remote part of the wilderness and experience a relative elevation gains. Exceptional camping can be found around all of the three lakes.

Lakes of the Clouds Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
2,400 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Day hike or backpack
Best April to December
9,100 feet
Trailhead Elevation
11,500 feet
Top Elevation
Rio Grande National Forest, San Isabel National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Electric Peak and Beckwith Mountain
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018