Rainbow Trail Trailhead


Sangre de Cristo
37.98065° N, -105.49963° W
14ers: Humboldt Peak
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Road Difficulty

Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
4WD, good-clearance required

Driving Directions

Take Colorado 69 south from Westcliffe. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right on Colfax Lane. Drive 5.5 miles to the end of Colfax. Turn right and drive 1 mile to a junction. This is usually the location of the winter closure. Continue straight up the 120 Road for 0.3 mile to the Lower 2WD trailhead. In summer, good-clearance 4WD vehicles can continue an additional 2.5 miles to the Rainbow Trail Junction (signed). This is the "trailhead."

Winter Access

The South Colony Lakes road is closed 2.5+ miles below the Rainbow trail junction.
Status Updates 
Posted By: bangerth
Info: The road to get to the Rainbow Trail trailhead is impassable. We took a 4x4 pickup to give it a shot, but the 4-8" of snow are underlain by an icy layer. With difficulty, we made it to within 1/8 of a mile of the end of the private property, but got hung up on large rocks coated in ice and ended up driving back down. Short of an ATV, I don’t believe that any car/truck can make it through the last section of private property and then on to the trailhead. Be prepared to walk the 2.5 miles (each way) from the winter lot.
Posted By: angry
Info: Parked at ~9200ft. 4wd can make it further up.
Posted By: mattpick
Info: Trail was rocky but clear this weekend. We drove up in a Chevy Colorado 4WD and were moving rocks on the way up to avoid scraping. We ended up parking at the trailhead (we were the only vehicle there today). Drainpipe was still there but it’s been covered with dirt over trail crossing, so you can just walk right over it now.
Posted By: boudreaux
Info: South Colony Road is clear all the way to Rainbow Trail. We got up there in a heavy, stock, 2WD suburban, so it’s not impossible. We did have a spotter and moved some rocks around, but we got up there. We parked about a 1/4 mile from the TH and walked the last section. As we walked by the metal drainpipe, we noted it is still a major obstacle to overcome. Others have piled rocks below the pipe to lessen a small hole, but its still about a 3" or 4" high x 10" wide, extremely, slippery pipe that stretches across the road. This pipe is about 200 yards below the Rainbow Trail. A few parking spaces at the TH. FS cleared away most of the trees here, I’m guessing beetle kill mitigation.
Posted By: spaceman_mort
Info: The first patches of snow start around half a mile above the 2WD parking lot. They are passable in a 4WD vehicle, but significant snowpack covers the road fully around 0.75 miles up from the 2WD lot.
Posted By: wintersage
Info: I parked at the 2WD trailhead as it is open, dry, and snow-free. The 4WD road looks deceptively open as there is no physical closure and no snow in sight, but you will encounter deep snow about 0.3mi in, which progressively gets deeper and more impassable.
Posted By: WildWanderer
Info: You’ll still need to park at the Lower South Colony Lakes 2WD lot, as the road further is impassable.
Posted By: WildWanderer
Info: Unless you’re driving a snowmobile you’ll be parking at the South Colony Lakes 2WD trailhead for the next few weeks. It looked like a few vehicles had tried to drive further, but changed their minds and backed up about 20 feet past the 2WD parking area. Luckily the 2WD drive in is dry: it only gets a bit muddy just before the turnoff into the lower parking lot. Snow begins right at the South Colony Lakes 2WD area.
Posted By: QuietBear
Info: The winter closure is at the 2WD trailhead at the start of the jeep road. Be sure to follow the trailhead directions and take Colfax (country road 119) and turn right onto 120 to the trailhead. Do not take the "shortcut" of country road 125. The last quarter mile of which is not plowed and has very deep snow. My high-clearance 4x4 with beefy snow tires got bogged down here at 5am and I had to use my traction plates to get out. Colfax and 120 are plowed up to the trailhead and you won’t have any problems.

The jeep road is snow-filled and made good skiing. While the trench had been buried under new snow, I re-broke the trail up to the upper trailhead, and later in the day several others reinforced it.
Posted By: sallenrogem87
Info: Made it to 0.2 miles from the official Rainbow Trail TH in a Subaru Outback with ~8.7 inches of ground clearance. It was somewhat of a stressful drive and the metal tube/drainage pipe just before the official Rainbow Trail TH is no joke. We parked just below that. I see that some people have stacked rocks underneath the tube/drainage pipe itself, but it is still somewhat of an advanced looking maneuver, as the road happens to steepen there as well. I don’t know if I would give this TH road the designation of Subaruable, but a skilled driver and a cautious line choice is an absolute necessity if you don’t have HIGH clearance 4WD vehicle. Entire length of the TH road is snow-free and dry, as is 98% of the East Ridge route up Humboldt Peak.
Posted By: bmcqueen
Posted By: WildWanderer
Info: Slush and ice and mud on entire trail. It was a bit sketchy but my Tundra made it about 1/4 of a mile from the Rainbow Trail trailhead. I only stopped because I found a decent place to park and I couldn’t see the rest of the route behind a turn. It was obvious hiking a little further several vehicles had turned around.
It should probably be closed at the lower trailhead. There were no tire tracks past Rainbow Trail towards South Colony Lakes.
Posted By: jladderud
Posted By: jbealer
Info: Same report as eairler Dec. one. Road is still clear to the rainbow trail TH. Then packed snow to upper trail head. Got my Element to just below the Rainbow TH. There is a large metal water tub i could not get over, there is one small parking space just below that, that i parked in.
Posted By: DanW
Info: Update is no update. Road is clear up to at LEAST Rainbow Trail with a few very short sections of packed snow.
Posted By: sdkeil
Info: Road still passable for my stock Xterra to the rainbow trail junction. We did not go any further since this was our destination, but we saw a couple vehicles come down from higher up so I imagine it may be passable to the South Colony Lakes TH. The road was mostly dry with a couple short patches of packed snow.
Posted By: pbergmaier
Info: 4WD road is dry to the Rainbow TH. The drain pipe section looked dicey enough for me in my AWD Honda CRV that I decided to park just before it and walk the last few hundred feet to the TH. A high clearance 4WD vehicle should have no issues at all getting to the TH.
Posted By: supranihilest
Info: Clear to the 4WD trailhead.
Posted By: TallGrass
Info: Not sure why people use this instead of the South Colony Lakes TH.
Rainbow Trail runs along the base of the Sangres and has junctions for at lease NINE roads at multiple designated "Trail Head" sites for lots of different peaks. I accessed Rainbow from the Horn Creek TH (note there is a non-motorized spur trail for hikers only from the first parking lot, upper one has outhouse) and rode 9 miles to the next road for SCL. Rainbow is used to access the "hiker only" North Colony Creek (and lakes), Macey, Marble and other trails.

The trail from Horn to SCL is only class 2 with ATV-grade bridges across all major creek crossings. There are some rocky and steep stretches and some rocky switchbacks where motorcycle with knobbies and a low 1st will excel.
Posted By: kayleenann8
Info: the road had a few puddles in the morning but was completely dry by mid-afternoon. We were able to drive in 2WD (albeit with high clearance) up to Rainbow trailhead. The road has some ruts and some boulders but in fairly good condition.
Posted By: BillMiddlebrook
Info: Clear the the Rainbow TH junction
Posted By: WhatWasIThinking
Info: Drove to the "private land for next 1/2 mile sign" 1 mile from trailhead.
Snow melting very fast on road so it won’t be long now till you could drive all the way to trailhead.
SAR was way past the trailhead on their side by with tracks having a fun day.
Posted By: CO Native
Info: Made it to 9400 in a Jeep Compass with no issues. I would expect that even with the recent storms a decent 4wd vehicle will be able to make it to the Rainbow Trailhead in 2 or 3 weeks.
Posted By: Unknown
Info: On descent today (around 11am) I saw numerous vehicles parked in section that is private property. People who are doing this just to save a mile or less walk from the 2WD TH are simply lazy and not giving any thought to the consequences of their actions. Whoever owns this private property could just decide that the number of people not adhering to the signage is too much and shut down access. Be smart and courteous to others. As for the conditions, 2WD trailhead is accessible by all vehicles. Above that the road is muddy in spots and one or two icy spots that you could probably drive over with enough momentum. At least one skilled jeep driver has been up to the rainbow trail, but I certainly wouldn‘t try it as there are sections with substantial snow. Also, I picked up a razor blade sitting in the middle of the 4WD road... not sure how it got there but I didn‘t want someone‘s tire to get punctured or worse yet wildlife stepping on it.
Posted By: Misi197
Info: Road clear up to the Lower 2WD trailhead. From there on up to the Rainbow Trailhead, snow varying from 1-3 feet. Not driveable.

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