Rainbow and Ruth Lakes Trail
ElevationAscent: 562' 171 m
Descent: -111' -34 m
High: 9,369' 2,856 m
Low: 8,900' 2,713 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)
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“Unmaintained trail winds up ridge with amazing panoramas of surrounding mountains to two more beautiful Sierra lakes.”— Lee Watts
In some places, there are several stacks within 100 yards of each other, but in other places, they seem to be missing, possibly because those places were covered with snow patches when the work was done. The trail is still a little difficult to follow. I lost it several times and had to consult a detailed topographical map to determine where to go next. Someone in the group should have route-finding skills.
About 0.5 miles from the start, you pass less than 0.25 miles from Flat Lake. There is no sign, but the ground is fairly level (flat) and it should be easy to find. I let my attention wander and ended up there by accident. It is a nice lake that I might have liked better later in the season, without the mosquitoes.
The trail to Rainbow Lake climbs southwest up a rocky ridge and then swings around to the northeast of pass above the 200-300-foot cliff on the west side of Flat Lake. Follow the ducks as best you can. Along the way, there are amazing 160-degree panoramas of the distant mountains. The trail then drops about 100 feet, crosses the creek from Rainbow Lake, and climbs back up to the lake. There is an excellent campsite when you first reach the lake.
Ruth Lake is only about 100 feet higher than Rainbow Lake. There are remnants of a trail and a few ducks, but you pretty much have to find your own way. Cross the outlet stream and run across the rocks to get around the long southern lobe of the lake. Several small ponds appear to block the way, but there is actually a narrow path between the ponds and the lake. Once around the lobe, head west, gradually climbing towards the sound of the outlet steam from Ruth. When you reach the stream, scramble up the rocks just before the outlet.
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