The Rainbow Lake trail provides hikers with spectacular views and scenery with subalpine meadows to gaze at, bridges to cross and a very refreshing waterfall. This hike is definitely one to add to the summer hit list if you haven’t been here already.
Rainbow Lake is located near Whistler, British Columbia. It is about a 16 kilometer hike and takes approximately 6 hours round trip depending on the conditions of the trail and the hikers. There is an 850 meter elevation gain in total. The Rainbow Lake trail is both well maintained and well marked. It is also very popular with the locals, especially to the waterfall area so if you can avoid hiking here on the weekends you will be able to avoid the busiest crowds.
To get here, drive towards Whistler and turn left at the Alta Lake Road where you will drive along for approximately 7 kilometers. Watch for signs for Rainbow Park and the Rainbow Trail. Here is where you will park your vehicle and begin the journey to Rainbow Lake.
You will start by hiking along the creek in a well treed area of the trail. After about 15 minutes of hiking you will come to the waterfall which is very refreshing to look at and if the wind is right you will feel the lovely mist on your face before heading onwards.
The trail to this point is shared with mountain bikers so do keep this in mind. As you continue on the trail you will soon come across some fantastic views of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. You will also be walking along some boardwalks through the subalpine meadows so please take care to stay on the trails as this fragile landscape takes a very long time to heal and recover from any damage done by visitors. A steel gate will be visible soon and this is where the mountain bikers are separated from the hikers. It is hikers only from this point onwards.
As you come to the 5 kilometer marker you will begin to see views of Rainbow Mountain. Stay on the boardwalk and take care crossing the creeks as the crossings can sometimes be slippery. If there is still snow on the ground it will take a little longer to reach the lake but once you reach it, you will notice that it rests scenically between Rainbow Mountain and Sproatt Ridge. This is a great spot to stop for lunch and dare to take a dip in the lake. It has been known to be frozen in June so even in the heat of summer this lake is going to feel very refreshing to say the least!
Rainbow Lake is a great hike and makes a wonderful destination for the day. Simply re-trace your steps after you are at the lake to return to your vehicle in the parking lot below.