Rainbow Gulch is a popular trail and offers a quick trip into the mountains with some stellar fall colors. Head west on Highway 24 to Woodland Park and turn right at the stoplight at Baldwin Street. Travel northward on Baldwin Street/Rampart Range Road for about 3 miles to Loy Creek Road, and turn right. Continue on the winding paved road lined with colorful aspens and cottonwoods for about 1 ½ miles to an intersection. Turn right here on Rampart Range Road that travels through forest and then a large meadow.
At the end of the meadow is a pull off spot where travelers can enjoy one of the finest views around of Pikes Peak Mountain. About 2 ½ miles from the intersection of Loy Creek and Rampart Roads, travelers will reach the large parking area on the left for Rainbow Gulch Trail.
Head down the wide trail that is also popular with mountain bikers. Stick to the wide trail, as it winds through spruce fir forest, meadows and aspen groves. If you’re lucky, you might observe the northern goshawks that live in the mature forest. During summer, the meadows are great spots for wildflower blooms. The trail eventually parallels an irrigation canal lined with willows that feeds into the reservoir. After about 1 1/2 miles, hikers will reach a bridge over the canal.
Those wishing to continue may continue on the Rampart Reservoir Trail. Cross the bridge and enter shady forest, a good option for a hot day. Continue straight and follow the sunny north shoreline of the reservoir, a good option for winter hiking. Hikers with an abundance of energy may do a full 12 mile loop around the reservoir, but that would require an early start and ideal weather forecast.
Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at email@example.com. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.