Rainbow Lake Trail #1130
ElevationAscent: 2,843' 867 m
Descent: -223' -68 m
High: 11,366' 3,464 m
Low: 8,745' 2,666 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)
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“A great trail in the Zirkel Wilderness that runs past Rainbow and Slide Lakes.”— Rafi Wilkinson
The trail will cross the Grizzly Helena Trail #1126 and enter the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. At this point, the trail will narrow into well maintained singletrack following a ridgeline. The views get better and better as the trail steadily gains elevation. The iconic rock formation Rabbit Ears will be visible in the distance to the south. The other interesting thing to notice is that almost all the trees to the south are aspen and all the trees to the north are conifers. The trail almost perfectly splits the two.
About two miles in, the trail will leave the ridge and run along the northern slope. You'll come across a stream crossing that is easy to navigate (at least in August). Lower and Middle Rainbow Lakes will be to your right but you'll not see them. At roughly three miles in, the trail will flatten out and Rainbow Lake will come into view. The trail skirts the lake to the south and you'll have to leave the trail in order the explore the lake.
At the western end of the lake, you'll cross Norris Creek. It can be difficult to find the path as many crossing have been created but look for the start of switchbacks once you cross. The trail is more difficult from this point on. After the switchbacks the trail will skirt Slide and Lower Slide Lakes. Once again you'll have to leave the trail to explore the Slide Lake. The trail to Upper Slide Like goes through meadows and patches for forest.
After Upper Slide Lake there are more switchbacks. The trail is now at and above the tree line. Cairns will mark the trail. The Roxy Ann Lake Trail will veer off to the right after about one mile from Upper Slide Lake. Continue until the trail interests with the Wyoming Trail (#1101). The peak elevation of the trail is approximately 11,350 feet.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes