Rainbow Lake

July 23, 2006

To get to the trailhead, follow Highway 99 north towards Whistler. After crossing the railway tracks and passing the Function Junction (at Alpha Lake Road), turn left onto Alta Lake Road and drive high above the west side of Alta Lake for about 7 kilometers.

Just after the sign for Rainbow Park on the right, is the sign for the Rainbow Trail on the left. You can park here at the mouth of Twentyone Mile Creek.

I have the chance to join once again the Xtreme Picnic Team. A very diversed group, some of their members are pretty experienced, speedy,"trail blazer" hiker type, while others prefer to walk at a slower pace. Either way, the group always goes as a compact unit.

Constantine, Shauna, Hiroshi and Juan

The trail starts covered by the shade of trees for maybe two hundred meters, very soon you will see the sign for Rainbow Falls - a short uphill hike - if time is not a problem, you should go there and take some nice pictures.

In our case we keep going and very soon we hit a gravel road where we saw a water supply building. The trail goes south on an open road. Turning back for an instant we had views of Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, the latter two criss-crossed with ski runs

The road ended at a gate. Someone riding a mountain bike must leave it here on the provided bike rack.

The trail gains a lot of elevation after this point, we enjoyed the views of cedar and Douglas Fir, and 45 minutes later we crossed a tributary of Twentyone Mile Creek on a nice bridge.


This is a good point for taking a break and see some distant falls. Despite local appeals this place was logged in 1951. The subsequent slash fire got out of control and for three weeks, a fire burned - all the way to the bluffs of Sproat Mountain.

After crossing mashier sections and seeing space-alien-sized skunk cabbage we left the forest and continue our hike into subalpine meadows with emerging views of Rainbow Mountain. The boardwalk helps to protect this fragile environment and your feet of getting wet if you want to see it from that perspective.

We keep gaining elevation on our way toward Twentyone Mile Creek. The stout cable bridge that crosses the creek has its deckboards taken up every autumn. If you don't see deckboards, you need to cross farther downstream.

This is the starting point to another hike where the final destination are Tonic and Gin Lakes.

Finally we reached the final bridge before Rainbow Lake.

This is the final push upward the lake.

If the trail is clear, 10 or 15 minutes should take you over there. Be careful is there is snow or you are hiking on a wet day.

Finally Rainbow Lake made its appearance, snuggled between Rainbow Mountain to the noth and Sproatt Ridge to the south, and the pass overlooking the Pemberton Icecap at the far end of the tarn.

We were able to find a somehow private place to eat a well-deserved lunch and where the Xtreme Picnic Team made honor to its name.

This area was covered by timber, in 1926, the first mill was built on Green Lake with many more smaller sawmills built in the 1930s. No wonder why it's hard to find old-growth forests in the Whistler area.

Rainbow Lake is the major source of Whistler's drinking water, for this reason swimming, fishing and camping is prohibited. According to the municipality, recreational use of drinking water supply areas can result in elevated levels of fecal coliforms and Cryptosporidium oocysts.

Watch the video now by clicking the play button below

To download this video, right-click this link and choose "Save Target As"
1:10 minutes - 2.55 MB - WMV File

Driving distance from Vancouver: 122 km (75.8 mi)

Copyright © 2008. Outdoors With Juan all rights reserved