Click on photo to continue up the trail to Columbine Lake by Mount Neva.
Shown above is the meadow in early morning by the Junco Lake trailhead.
A favorite family hike for visitors and residents is the 3 mile hike to
Columbine Lake below Mount Neva in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
It's a true high alpine experience, and yet not difficult with an elevation
gain of one thousand feet spread out over the three miles. It is unusual
in that one is able to drive very deep into the National Forest before
one reaches the trail head. Here are the driving directions.
Just east of Tabernash, Highway 40 rises up to go over the railroad tracks.
On the Fraser side of the overpass, but still close to Tabernash, there is a
turnoff to the east to Devils Thumb Ranch via Road 83 and Meadow
Creek Reservoir via Road 84. A few hundred yards from Highway 40,
the road splits and you want to take the left fork, Road 84 to Meadow
Creek Reservoir deep in the Arapaho National Forest. The National
Forest road number is 129 for this same road. After about 9 miles of
winding through the forest and steadily climbing, one reaches Meadow
Creek Reservoir. The very last part of the road is a bit rough, but regular
vehicles can handle it if they are not driven too fast. One continues on
the same road for another 2 miles and watches for the Junco Trailhead sign
Trailhead at the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The side road to the
trailhead veers off from the main road to the left. It takes about 30 minutes
to drive the eleven mles from the turn off of Highway 40 to the Junco trailhead.
It's well worth it, because you are now set for some true high alpine adventure.
For a longer and deeper excursion in the Indian Peaks, one can start on
the Columbine Lake trail and then switch to the Caribou Trail, just past
the halfway point to Columbine Lake. The Caribou Trail quickly rises
to Caribou Pass from which one can descend to Caribou Lake and
Coyote Park at the base of Arapaho Peak. Another, slightly longer way
to Caribou Pass is to take the easy trail all the way in to Columbine Lake
and then to climb directly up through steep yet moderate terrain to Caribou Pass.
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