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Columbine Lake Out-and-Back



6.4 mile 10.3 kilometer loop
90% Runnable


Ascent: 978' 298 m
Descent: -978' -298 m
High: 11,060' 3,371 m
Low: 10,088' 3,075 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by Blake Calvert

A beautiful day run up to stunning alpine lake below the Continental Divide.

Blake Calvert

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Arapaho National Recreation Area pass and camping permits are required. No campfires allowed.


Columbine Lake (11,060 ft.) is located 3.4 miles from Junco Lake Trailhead on the west side of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It lies under Mount Neva (12,814 ft.) in a broad treeline basin ringed by level meadows, tree-topped knolls, and alpine terraces.

Columbine Lake is a family-friendly destination that sees heavy traffic throughout the summer. It is a good 6.8 mile day run. Stay on designated trails and avoid trampling vegetation around the lake.

Camping permits are required and limited. Fires are not permitted at Columbine Lake.

Need to Know

You'll need to buy a day-use pass at the kiosk along the road up to Meadows Creek Reservoir. The parking at the Junco Lake Trailhead can fill up quickly on summer weekends. The are pit restrooms and an information cabin next to the parking lot.


The trail begins on a rocky jeep road that steepens to an unmarked fork; keep left (1.0 mile: 10,350 ft.). It rises to a large meadow at the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary, past which dogs must be leashed (1.28 miles: 10,420 ft.). The trail arcs around the meadow, veers left at a re-vegetation sign (1.55 miles) and switchbacks up to the Caribou Pass - Columbine Lake split (1.95 miles: 10,570 ft.).

The Columbine Lake Trail twists up to another large meadow (2.4 miles) and levels to a smaller meadow framed by a steep rock wall (2.7 miles: 10,750 ft.). The trail has been improved over the past few years to prevent running through a wet bog below the steep rock wall. It turns right and crosses the meadow to join the creek, where it steepens on a shifty path through a high alpine forest to Columbine Lake (3.4 miles: 11,060 ft.).

History & Background

There are some old cabins and outhouses along the early portions of the trail.

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Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 7 votes


  4.6 from 7 votes
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37 Views Last Month
2,501 Since Oct 11, 2018



Creek along the Columbine Lake Trail, July 29, 2019.
Jul 30, 2019 near Fraser, CO
Columbine Lake with Mt Neva in background
Oct 11, 2018 near Fraser, CO
Waterfall along the last climb to the lake.
Oct 11, 2018 near Fraser, CO
Trail along lower meadow as you enter Indian Peaks Wilderness
Oct 11, 2018 near Fraser, CO
Valley view as you approach the fork with the Caribou Trail.  Note old abandoned trail.
Oct 11, 2018 near Fraser, CO
Turnpike along upper meadow.
Oct 11, 2018 near Fraser, CO


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