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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests > Sulphur Ranger District

Quick Facts

Columbine Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,080 Feet (3142.1 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 980 Feet (305.5 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,060 Feet (3447.6 Meters)
Length, One-way: 2.8 Miles (4.67 Kilometers)
TI Topo Maps: #102, Indian Peaks, Gold Hill
Trail Number: 11
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Monarch Lake

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Columbine Lake offers day hikers a beautiful setting for a leisurely lunch and is well worth the hike through the wet meadows. Blazes mark the trail, enabling hikers to find their way along a path often snow covered in early July. Fishing is fair. Campfires are not permitted around Columbine Lake.

Much of this trail is located within the Indian Peaks Wilderness - regulations apply. A permit is required for overnight users between June 1 and September 15.

This short trail is most commonly used by day hikers. It follows an old jeep road and reaches a junction with the Caribou Pass Trail at 1.7 miles. The Columbine Lake Trail continues south along the road, which becomes a trail after 1.8 miles. Here the trail enters a lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce forest where it climbs to a plateau 2 miles from the trailhead. For the next half mile the trail mucks around through marshy meadows covered with elephantella, marsh marigold, and globeflowers.

At the southern end of these meadows the trail meets Meadow Creek where the path becomes steep and rocky. Off to the right, Meadow Creek's water rushes by banks bordered with brightly colored parry primrose.

From the creek the path heads left over boulders and through a spruce fir forest before once again turning to join the creek. Together the creek and trail climb a short distance to a second level containing still another soggy meadow. Although the under footing is wet, the view of Middle Park and the Fraser Valley and the surrounding mountains, including Winter Park Ski Area, is excellent. At the end of the meadow and at timberline is Columbine Lake, 2.8 miles from the trailhead.

The shallow, green lake is bordered on its northern shores with large granite ledges interspersed with subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce. Lush green grass leads to the horseshoe of rock wall surrounding the southern lake shore.

Directions from Granby: Travel southeast on Highway 40 approximately 14 miles to County Road 84. Travel northeast for 6 miles to Forest Road 129, then east 6 miles to the Junco Lake Trailhead.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Fall .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Time of Day: all day long
Length of Time: we took our time. 4-5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This is a nice hike, ideal for day trips, although I saw many overnighters. It's challenging enough not to bore you, and the scenery is great. The lake itself is beautiful, nice green color. Bring bug spray!
Conditions: a little muddy in sections...don't recommend sneakers.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Fishing Fair fishing offered
ICON Hiking & Walking
ICON Horseback Riding Columbine Lake Trail

Related Activities
Caribou Pass Trail - The Caribou Pass Trail #11, is located northeast of Fraser. It leads from the Junco Lake Trailhead, near Meadow Creek Reservoir, to Caribou Pass.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, 928 Grand Avenue , Grand Lake, CO, 80447, Phone: 800-531-1019


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