Columbine Lake (#11.1)

Length: 2.8 miles ONE WAY

Elevation: 10,080 feet at the Junco Lake Trailhead; 11,060 feet at Columbine Lake

Trail Description:  At the Junco Lake Trailhead, the trail begins as an old jeep road. After a mile, the road forks and the right-hand fork leads to several tumbled down log cabins beside Meadow Creek. Following the left fork, the road will skirt the northern edge of a long open meadow through which Meadow Creek flows. Here the trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. The trail continues to a junction. The right fork goes to Columbine Lake. The trail enters the forest where it climbs to a plateau, located 2 miles from the trailhead. For the next .5 mile, the trail skirts marshy meadows. At the southern end of these meadows, the trail meets Meadow Creek, where it becomes steep and rocky. From the creek, the trail heads left over boulders before turning again towards the creek. The trail then climbs alongside the creek to a smaller second plateau and another marshy meadow. At the end of this meadow, the trail then climbs to timberline, still following the creek, and ends at Columbine Lake.

The lake is situated below Mt. Neva. It is a shallow lake, with a maximum depth of 8 feet containing rainbow and cutthroat trout. Columbine Lake offers day hikers a beautiful setting for a leisurely lunch and is well worth the hike through the wet meadows. Remnants of snow fields usually remain along the trail until the first or second week of July.

Download a trail summary here.

View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Blowdown from the wind event has been cleared from the Junco Trailhead to Columbine Lake. 
Fees: Parking in the Arapaho National Recreation Area at Junco Lake Trailhead requires a daily use fee. America the Beautiful Interagency Passes accepted.
Permit Info: Permits are required for overnight stays in the Indian Peak Wilderness from June 1 to September 15. Additional permit requirements exist for large and organized groups.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Hiking conditions are best from July through September.
Restrictions: Columbine Lake Trail is located within the Indian Peaks Wilderness, therefore wilderness regulations apply.
  • Permits are required for overnight stays in the Indian Peak Wilderness from June 1 to September 15.
  • Mechanized/motorized travel is prohibited.
  • Campfires are prohibited at Columbine Lake.
  • Do not camp within 100 feet of developed trails or bodies of water.
  • Group size is limited to 12 people and/or livestock.
  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Closest Towns: Tabernash, Fraser, Winter Park
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Pit toilet located at Junco Lake Trailhead.
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


Head north on U.S. Highway 40 north out of Fraser. Turn right (east) onto County Road 83. When the road forks, go left onto County Road 84 (NFSR 129). Travel 11 miles to the Junco Lake Trailhead parking area.


Day Hiking


Know Before You Go

Related Information

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