Rainbow Road

Idaho Springs, Colorado (ClearCreek County)
Last Updated: 12/26/2017
3/5 (3 reviews)
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Impassable
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 2-2
(EASY)
Length: 3.17 miles
Highest Elevation: 10747 feet
Duration: About 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Idaho Springs
Nearest Town w/ Services: Idaho Springs
Official Road Name: 275
Management Agency: Clear Creek County
District:
Distance:
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Highlights

Highlight: Rainbow Road

Fishing, hiking, and camping. Rainbow Road takes you to the popular Fall River Reservoir and connects you to the Chinns Lake Trail. Along the route you will come to a Continental Divide National Scenic Trail access point which provides long distance hiking access north to James Peak Wilderness and southeast to Bill Moore Lake and Breckinridge Peak. This road also connects you to the more interesting and remote Chinns Lake Trail.

Video

Route Information

Technical Rating: (2-2)
(EASY)

Dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Some ruts. Slight grades, up to 10 degrees. 2WD under most conditions. Rain or snow may make 4WD necessary. Usually one and a half to two vehicles wide.

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Description

A very rocky and bumpy road that follows mostly private property the entire way. It is straight through with only 1 connecting trail, Chinns Lake. This road is not maintained all the way through during the winter months.

Seasonal Information

Spring:It is usually late spring to early summer before one can make it all the way.
Summer:This is the best time of year to visit this trail. It is very busy and crowded then.
Fall:Some good leaf viewing opportunities around mid-September.
Winter:Impassable.

Waypoints

1. Rainbow Road Trailhead

Turn onto the dirt road here.

2. Continental Divide Hiking Trailhead

Follow the clearly defined road. This is a Continental Divide National Scenic Hiking Trail access point which provides hiking access north to James Peak Wilderness and southeast to Bill Moore Lake and Breckinridge Peak.

3. Chinns Lake Trailhead

Continue straight to reach Fall River Reservoir, or turn left to head up to Chinns Lake.

4. End - Fall River Reservoir

It is worth hiking around Fall River Reservoir. Although you can not drive around the reservoir, there are plenty of places to camp along the shore. Hiking around the reservoir is worth the time and there is a beautiful series of waterfalls on the far side.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.804283, -105.641830

Starting Point: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Exit off of I-70 on exit #238 to Fall River Road. Travel up Fall River Road approximately 6 miles until you get to the second switchback at a large gated home. Turn left onto Rainbow Road.

Camping

The road follows mostly private property until the very end. The best camping locations are directly before you enter into the parking area of the reservoir on the right hand side along the river. If you carry your equipment, there are ideal locations in the trees all along the reservoir. If your vehicle can make it, the better camping is at Chinns Lake.
Camping: Rainbow Road

Writer Information

Todd

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Todd is an avid wheeler who loves to explore new trails whenever and wherever he can. They say necessity is the mother of all invention and that holds true for Todd. His want and desire to find passable trails and new nooks and crannies of the Great American West to explore were his reasons behind starting Trailsoffroad.com. On any given weekend you can find Todd on some obscure 4x4 trail or using his legs to hike to an alpine lake.

Community

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: are kayaks allowed in the resevoir?
–manuel (08/29/2018)
A: I’m not 100% sure, however, there is no signage indicating that they are prohibited. Refer to your local boating regulations.
–Todd (08/30/2018)
Q: Is the reservoir dried up yet?
–Nick (08/21/2018)
A: Hi Nick, we don’t have current intel on water levels, sorry. I’ve only seen this dry one time, and that was done by man, not Mother Nature.
–Todd (08/30/2018)
Q: Anyone try and drive this recently? What are the conditions like?
–Evan Thompson (05/20/2018)
A: Went up on 7/21/2018. Conditions were good, made it all the way up to the lake.
–Kris Davis (07/23/2018)
A: Hi Evan, This one will be a few more weeks before you can make it all the way up to the reservoir.
–Todd (05/21/2018)
Q: you think it's clear for Father's day weekend to get to the res ... I drive a stock tacoma TRD off Road
–Kyle Anderson (06/13/2017)
A: thanks Todd
–Kyle Anderson (06/14/2017)
A: Reports are that some very large drifts remain just before the end. It will be iffy if you can make it to the last parking area.
–Todd (06/14/2017)

Trail Reviews (11)

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Made it to about 1/4 mile from the reservoir today before hitting some deep drifts, same spot where the drifts are always last to melt in the spring/summer. Shorelines have reopened at the res, nice short hike but bring your snowshoes the drifts are DEEP already especially in the bowl around the res.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The gate at the reservoir (as stated) is closed. This was a decent trip out and i did not take the hike to see the reservoir but in my opinion the trail was far more bumpy than i expected and not worth the drive. i went up to the other 2 lakes with the other trail and they were very low(maybe 30ft), i would recomend going to loch lomond instead.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open and clear to gate at reservoir. There were a few puddles, nothing more than 3 inches deep for about 10 feet.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Visited the trail just before a large storm hit. At that time we were able to bust through a couple deep drifts just shy of the lake and made it all the way through. I wouldn't expect it to be passable that far now since a big storm rolled through the next day. There is a lot of private land and a lot of new homes being built in the area. Areas that were once great camp spots 10-12 years ago are now blocked off and marked as private.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This was a fun little trail that we just decided to do while out and after we'd done Kingston Peak. The trail is open all the way through and we saw plenty of traffic up at the top.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Open all the way to the reservoir. No snow and very little water on the trail.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Road is open all the way to the top. A Subaru Forester and Honda CRV crawled up behind me with pretty impressive ease.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
road is clear to the top. I have 8 inches of clearance

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
You can almost make it to the Fall River Dam, but there are two large snow drifts approx. 500 feet from the end of the trail. Probably another 2-3 weeks before it will be passable to the top.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
Rating:
In attempting to break through Chinns Lake four-wheel drive road I decided to go the reservoir and take in the views. The area was very crowded with dispersed campers littered along the road and up by the Fall River Reservoir.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Headed up Rainbow Road as it's close to Denver and would give me a good idea of what the snow conditions were like on the higher trails. Had my LJ on 37s, locked front & rear and a buddy's LJ on 35s also locked front & rear. It's was fairly packed snow right from the beginning and you could tell the trail had been well used recently. We made it to waypoint 3 no problems as again, the snow was just packed from other trail users. After the Chinn's Lake Split, the snow got a little deeper and you could tell there were less users going past this point. Eventually there were no more tracks and we were cutting fresh trail. A few hundred yards from the trail end was a large snowdrift that took some time to work through, but we were both able to get through it without using our winches. If anyone is thinking of running this trail this time of year, only someone with a well built rig with lockers will make it to where we did at this point in the season. I would suggest stock vehicles turn around at the Chinns Lake Split. When the trail is dry, it is an easy cruise that could be done in 2wd.