Rainbow Gulch trail
Rolling through Pike National Forest, Rampart Range Road is a steady thoroughfare of diverse adventurists: hikers, bikers, campers, off-roaders and anglers. In Woodland Park, that last group is widely aware of the trail numbered 714. It’s otherwise known as the Rainbow Gulch trail, the quick, pleasant path to the popular fishery of Rampart Reservoir. Even if you don’t have a line to cast, you should enjoy the getaway.
You might be wishing for some of those unbroken vistas you had on the drive to the trailhead, though. Pikes Peak boldly rises beyond roadside fields, and white-capped peaks to the west are also seen on a clear day. That all hides from view on the forested trail, the most eye-catching aspect here being house-sized boulders.
Come fall, you’ll be treated by aspen groves. Come during spring runoff as we did, and you’ll find a roaring creek.
It’s as if you’ve entered some idyllic painting: butterflies dancing in the meadows, tall evergreens covering hillsides, birdsong lending the melody with the whitewater. We walked on the designated left side of the stream, while we spotted a cyclist opt for the singletrack on the right side.
Both trails converge with the creek at the reservoir, about 1 ½ miles from the starting point. Here we found families fishing, others enjoying a picnic. The trail continues around the lake’s 500 surface acres. Continue along the shore to find your place of solitude.
Trip log: 4 miles round trip (out and back), 280-foot total elevation gain
Getting there: Going west on U.S. 24 through Woodland Park, turn right onto Baldwin Street at McDonald’s. After about 3 miles on the street, turn right onto Loy Creek Road. After 1 ½ miles, turn right onto Rampart Range Road. In 2 miles, see the trailhead and parking area to your left.
FYI: Multi-use, nonmotorized. No wading or swimming in the water. Dogs on leash. Camping only at designated campgrounds. Rampart Range Road typically gated Dec. 1 to April 1.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE