Rainbow Lake Trail hike

Indian Peaks
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Rainbow Lake Trail hike

Distance: 3.1mi
Elevation: 276ft
Time: 1.5-2.5h

Difficulty Rating:

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This is a nice family friendly hike that will - in a short amount of time - take you to four scenic mountain lakes. The trailhead leaves at the Rainbow Lakes Campground, so if you want to plan a trip with the kids, this is a great activity to wear off all those s’mores you ate the night before.

Rainbow Lake Trail hike Map

Getting there

From Nederland, at the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto W 2nd St. Continue onto CO-72 for 6.8mi. Take a left to Rainbow Lakes on CO-Rd. 116. Take the gravel road for around 5.0mi to the parking.

I’ve done this 7 people have done this
I want to do this 12 want to do this route


When to do

Early June to Late September

Backcountry Campsites

Rainbow Lakes Campground or backcountry with permit



Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back

Rainbow Lake Trail
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Rainbow Lake Trail hike

After entering the trail from the trailhead, bear left and curve through the dense forest. As the trail gently ascends, you’ll soon arrive at the first lake. Continue on the well-traveled path to reach the second lake.

You have to go over a log crossing to get past a creek (the water level changes depending on the snow melt). Then, you’ll have to hike over a rocky section. Ultimately this will bring you to the third and fourth lakes. Each of the four mountain lakes has a scenic backdrop of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

The trip back is the same way you came in.

Insider Hints

  • Unimproved camping is available along Co Rd. 116 if Rainbow Lakes Campground is full. (Wildlife Alert: Bears are common in this area, proper storage of food and supplies is required, otherwise expect to have guests!)

  • Altitude sickness is a concern here, bring plenty of water, stay hydrated and don’t party too hard the night before!

  • Overnight permits are required to camp in the Indian Peaks backcountry. Overnight permits are limited and must be obtained in advance for camping dates 6/1-9/15. Visit the Indian Peaks visitor website for more details.

  • Visit the Town of Nederland, and grab a bite at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse or a beer at the Very Nice Brewing Company after your hike.


ddiana 5 months ago

lovely walk along the wild lakes and river

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