The need for a new hike recently took us to the Rainbow Trail in Whistler. This was a gorgeous excursion that had pretty much everything: mountain views, beautiful waterfalls, and a stunning lake at the end of the trail.
The trail wound slowly but steadily uphill from the parking lot, taking us past wide open views of the Whistler valley and Green Lake before we found the side trail to Rainbow Falls. This was a very worthwhile detour, with the cooling mist from the falls proving very welcome on a humid afternoon.
The trail wound on through old growth forest, past tumbling creeks and more small waterfalls that sparkled in the sunlight. It was smooth with just a few roots here and there, making for easy hiking in spite of the steady elevation gain. It seemed like no time had passed at all when we found ourselves on the edge of the alpine, traversing small meadows on boardwalks that had clearly been intended to help out during wetter times.
The open spaces around us were speckled with wildflowers here and there, and Rainbow Mountain crowned the horizon ahead. Looking back at the views of Wedge and Blackcomb, I figured we had to be getting close to the lake. In fact it turned out to be a surprising distance away, across a whole series of additional meadows and then up one last ridge past a tumbling, chattering waterfall. When we finally crested the last rise and saw it in front of us, the reason for its name was immediately clear.
Probably the only disappointment of the trip was that we couldn’t swim in the crystal clear lake water, since it’s part of the Whistler watershed and swimming in the drinking water isn’t encouraged. Even so, it was well worth the long trek up to see the beautiful lake and the views of Wedgemount towering behind.
We made a fairly rapid descent back to the car, trying to keep ahead of the swarming clouds of bugs that were determined to eat us alive. The round trip took just over five hours, and in terms of bang for the buck it was a fantastic hike. Highly recommended.