Rainbow Lakes (#918)

Image showing one of the Rainbow Lakes with a mountain behind the high elevation lake

Length: Rainbow Lakes Trailhead (TH) to the last Rainbow Lake – 1.2 miles ONE-WAY.

Elevation: 10,000 feet at the TH; 10,250 feet at highest Rainbow Lake.

Trail Descirption: Rainbow Lakes Trail heads west from the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead located before the Rainbow Lakes Campground. It soon enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The trail is an easy, short hike up to the Rainbow Lakes, a series of small lakes and beaver ponds.

View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Permit Info: This trail lies within the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:
  • Camping permits required for all overnight trips between June 1 and September 15. Overnight permits cost $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round. Day-hiking permits are free.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Best season for hiking is July - October.
Restrictions: Indian Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized transportation are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires are prohibited year round.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12 (people and livestock combined).
  • Processed weed-free feed is required for stock.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles.
Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Nederland, Colorado
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilets at the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


This route is gated during the winter. This road is a five-mile, native-surfaced road. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.


From Nederland, head north on Colorado Highway 72 for approximately seven miles. Look for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station sign and turn west onto National Forest System Road 298.


Lake and Pond Fishing

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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