Upper and Lower Rainbow Falls
ElevationAscent: 408' 124 m
Descent: -408' -124 m
High: 7,620' 2,323 m
Low: 7,212' 2,198 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (3°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)
Popular runs nearby
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Mammoth Crest - Duck Pass Loop
13.2 mi 21.2 km • Point to Point • 2,875 ft Ascent 876.21 m Ascent
Agnew Meadow to Lower Rainbow Falls (JMT Route)
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“Wildlife and wildflowers are abundant on this terrific trail to Devils Postpile and 2 amazing waterfalls.”— Trail Run Project Staff
From the trailhead, you follow the San Joaquin river in a beautiful pine forest. The Devils Postpile is the first landmark you'll see, where columnar basalt formations jut up about 75 feet from the ground where you're standing. If you want to make a side trip, there is a short loop to the top of the postpile, where glaciers have smoothed it out.
The trail goes into a old burn zone, that has recovered magnificently, with wildflowers and grasses dominating, with new, young trees growing back in. Soon you arrive at Rainbow falls, a 101 foot waterfall on the San Joaquin, over a very slow eroding basalt. Unlike other river falls in the Sierra (minus Yosemite), it is a free fall. There are plenty of namesake rainbows here.
As you continue along the trail, the grasses and wildflowers are dominant on one side, while the other is wooded. When you arrive at the Lower falls, there is a great swimming hole. The lower falls is more of a river fall, wide and diagonal, but the amount of water makes is a special place to swim. Retrace your steps to return.
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Need to Know, Runner Notes, Overview, History & Background
Land Manager: USFS - Inyo National Forest Office