Sleep In The Dirt

Section 14:

Rainbow Road to Lake Granby

What We Found

The content below contains general information about Big Agnes staff experience while traveling along the CDT through Colorado in the summer of 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel this route, do so at your own risk. The hike kicks off with one big climb up and over James Peak before entering into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. From there you descend towards Rocky Mountain National Park until you reach Arapahoe Valley Ranch where you can end your trip with beers and ice cream.

  • distance
    32 miles
  • elevation gain
    3,784 feet
  • elevation loss
    2,250 feet
  • highest point
    13,304 feet
  • wilderness area
    yes
  • percent on trail
    100%

Section 14 welcomes you with a 3,000 ft. climb to the summit of James Peak. As you descend James peak, the trail is rocky and undefined with patches of loose skree and boulder fields. Cairns are the only indication of the CDT, and it was slow going the first 12 miles due to elevation gain, and the rocky terrain. There is a seasonal stream at mile 3.2, otherwise no reliable water sources until you reach Kings Lake. Each member of our team carried 4L of water to get us through the first +/- 14mi stretch to Kings Lake. Kings Lake is about 1.5 miles off trail and a great spot to camp, refill and recharge. Day 1 on the trail was about 12 hours of foot time mostly above tree line. The rest of the section is less strenuous and forested with plenty of water sources and camping options. Day two went much faster due to little elevation gain, shady forest terrain and plenty of “beaches” to replenish our water and spirits. We opted for a long distance on day two so we could camp at Meadow Creek Reservoir where there are lakeside tent sites, pit toilets and fire rings and fly fishing. Day three was a short +/- 6 mile day for our scheduled arrival into Lake Granby to meet our cohorts from Section 15. There are plenty of camping and lodging options on Lake Granby which made for a great place to end our section of the journey. On Trail: July 29, 2018 - August 1st, 2018

Jessica Barker, Art and Graphic Design, Big Agnes
Learn more about the hike

Our Itinerary

Southern Access Point:

Rainbow Road Ley Maps CO 14

Northern Access Point:

Southern Tip of Lake Granby, where trail crosses Country Road 6 near Arapahoe Valley Ranch & Small Moose Trading Post Ley Maps CO 12

Wilderness Area:

Yes

What We Experienced: 

A tough climb up James peak on the first day, with little water availability until King’s lake.

Loose scree sections and boulder fields on your descent from James Peak.

Additional Resources: 

Leave No Trace Principles

Guthook Guide – Continental Divide Trail

U.S. Forest Service – Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest

Our Route

Ascent:
3,784 feet

Descent:
2,250 feet

Grade per Mile:
538 feet

Pro tips:

Be ready to scramble a little bit of scree (loose rocks).

Pack wind/rain gear, this section is pretty exposed but has very little blow down.

Continue to Lake Granby for an extended multi-day backpacking trip!

Skills We Needed

• Rock Scrambling
• Lightning Safety
• Map Navigation
• LNT Ethics

* This site and routes described within contain general information about Big Agnes staff adventures in the backcountry, summer 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check local weather, trail conditions, closures, legal access points, Forest Service, BLM, or National Park rules and regulations, and other risks involved. We hope to inspire responsible backcountry and public land use, but by using our website you agree to use this information at your own risk.