The Colorado state flower can be found sprinkled around on various hikes; the trick is to know which trails. This page will become a collection of hiking trails where I've spotted these delicate blue and white flowers. Columbine flower pictures will also grace this page, as you see here.
And by the way, did you know that "Where the Columbines Grow" is the Colorado state song? Well, now you do, and if you keep reading, I'll tell you some of the places where you can find these beautiful lavender and white flowers.
Colorado State Flower hikes
1) Maroon Bells-The three hikes on my Maroon Bells page all offer a sprinkling of these flowers.
2) Rabbit Ears Peak Trail, Steamboat Springs
Directions to Steamboat Springs, (and the trailhead): from Denver, take I-70 west to the Silverthorne exit 205. (You'll see the sign for Steamboat Springs.) Turn right, going north on Colorado highway 9, which is also called "Blue River Parkway". Continue on to the town of Kremmling, where you turn left, (west), on U.S. highway 40. Keep going for about 30 miles, and when you start climbing Rabbit Ears Pass, be looking on your right for the Muddy Creek and Buffalo Park turn-off signs. Once you pass these signs, you'll be almost there, so watch carefully on your right for the small sign, (in about 1 mile), that says Dumont Lake.
Turn right at the Dumont Lake sign and proceed on National Forest Road 315. Go for about 2 miles until you come to the stone marker, (on your left), for the old Rabbit Ears summit. Turn left into the parking area and find a good spot.
The trail itself isn't very well marked so here's how to find it: from the parking area, go straight on the main dirt road that you'll see there, (not the trails on the left or the right), and keep going along it. Shortly thereafter, you'll see what looks like the beginning of a trail on your right, and sure enough, it is. There's a marker there that says "291", and this is where you want to go.
The Rabbit Ears Peak trail (6.0 miles round-trip) takes you up to the rabbit "ears" of Rabbit Ears Pass and the trail is mostly moderate, but the last part of it becomes quite steep. The view on top is well worth it though!
The bottom portion of this trail tends to be a little "buggy" so it's probably a good idea to have the bug spray with you, and use it. To offset the bugs, there are profusions of wild flowers, (including columbine flowers), of all different kinds and colors. If you want to catch them in peak bloom, that usually happens between about late July to early August.
The beginning of the trail starts out fairly easily before it develops an incline. It's an old jeep road and if you're unlucky, you just might see a jeep. We did, and were very surprised. Luckily, there weren't any others and you probably won't see any either. Anyway, be watching for our Colorado state flower since you'll see clumps of them in various spots along the trail.
You will also have views of the "Rabbit Ears" for a short time, before they disappear from sight. Most of the trail is open so remember to bring the sunscreen. At one point, you'll cross a small stream. It has stepping stones in it which make it relatively easy to get across. Eventually, the trail gets steeper and pretty much stays that way until you reach the top. So, take your time, smell the flowers, and drink water!
3) Lower Cataract Lake, near Silverthorne-this is a mostly easy hike around a beautiful lake, and I've seen more columbine flowers here than any other trail on this site. The best time to see these flowers here is usually from about early to mid July. For more information about this hike, (which is also great for fall color), please visit my Colorado fall color page. It's the last hike on that page.
As I come across other hikes that feature our Colorado state flower, I'll add them here, so do check back from time to time.