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Lakes of the Clouds Trail

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Basics
Location:
50 miles west of Pueblo
Setting:
Mountainous
Length:
8.4 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate,
Difficult
Time:
4 to 5 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
9200 feet
Elevation Change:
-2300 feet
Season:
Summer - Fall

Description

There are three lakes in this basin; two are below timberline. Above the basin are Spread Eagle Peak and Mount Marcy.

Beginning elevation is 9,200’ (Rainbow Trail) and 11,500’ at the lowest lake.

Mileage from the Gibson Parking area to the lowest lake is about 5 miles.

This trail is good for both day and backpacking trips.

The areas close to the lakes show signs of heavy use in the past years, current regulations now prohibit camping and stock within 300’ of lakes and 100’ of streams.

These lakes get significant use on weekends and holidays in the summer months.

This trail gets a significant amount of horse use.

Fishing success is fair at these lakes.

Books

This is absolutely the best map available for hiking Rocky Mountain National Park. It lays out the whole park three-dimensionally and shows more than 100 trails. You’ll easily be able to see how to reach the trailhead and where the trail runs.

Location:
50 miles west of Pueblo
Setting:
Mountainous
Length:
8.4 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Difficult
Time:
4 to 5 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
9200
Elevation Change:
-2300
Season:
Summer - Fall
Useful Map(s):
USGS Quads: Electric Peak
Basic Directions

Gibson Creek….from Westcliffe (Westcliffe is 50 miles west of Pueblo); follow Highway 69 north to CR #170, follow this dirt road about 5 miles and turn left at the Forest Service sign for Gibson Ck.. Take a right at the next sign and you’ll be on #172, follow this to the end of the road (about 3 miles) to get to the Gibson Ck parking area. The access trail to the Rainbow is on the north end of the parking area and goes west about 200 yards until it meets with the Rainbow Trail. The Lakes of the Clouds trailhead (junction with Rainbow Trail) is 1 mile north.. The Lakes of the Clouds trail follows Swift Creek for about four miles to the lowest lake. Another access (favored by horse back riders) is the Short Creek trailhead. This trailhead is about another mile north of Swift Creek as you follow the Rainbow trail. This trail has a lot less rocks and is a longer but gentler climb than the Swift Creek trail. The lowest lake is about 4 miles from the trailhead at the Rainbow Trail and Swift Creek. The trail is easy for hiking, and 4.2 miles in length.

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