Winter Hike to Rainbow RIdge

Rate this Adventure Washington Rainbow Ridge Trailhead

Added by Thadd Zehnder

Can't stand crowds? Love fresh snow and big views? Of you answered yes then this might be the winter adventure for you.

Turn left off of the Grandy-Baker Lake Road onto FS RD 1130 just past the Boulder Creek Campground. Stay right at the first fork in the road. At 3.9 miles go right towards Rainbow Falls.  The falls are located at a large bend in the road at approximately 4.5 miles.  I have never found a good safe way of seeing these falls in their entirety. At 9.5 miles arrive at the trailhead.  Please note that in the winter you may not be able to get this far by vehicle.

From the trailhead continue up the abandoned road to your left for approximately 0.5 miles before entering the forest.  When there is no snow the trail is evident.  Not so much in the winter.  I recommend hiking this one at least once during the summer to get familiar with where the trail is.  I also recommend using flagging tape to mark your trail on the way up and mark often.  Finding the ridge at the top is easy, finding your car on the side of mountain on the way down might not be.  Don't count on being able to follow your tracks back down as new snow may cover them.

Go up. Go up some more.  You'll know when you are there.  I wish there were better directions in the winter but if you've hiked this one in the summer you'll understand.  The trail isn't all that nice to start with and it does go straight up for the most part. Once on the ridge there are miles to explore.  Views of Baker Lake, Mount Baker and Shuksan are right in your face.  You can see Shannon and Ptarmigan ridges from here, heck you can see forever on a clear day. Plan on spending several hours up here if your day allows; remember that the days are short and once the sun dips behind the flanks of Mount Baker its going to get cold and dark fast.

Pack List

If attempting this hike in the winter you need to be prepared for cold and wet conditions.  In winter conditions I always recommend being prepared to spend a cold miserable night at the least.  Conditions in the mountains can change rapidly, especially here in western Washington where things can go from sketchy to you're screwed in a heart beat. If you have no idea what this might mean then you should probably be looking elsewhere.  Don't fret there are plenty of other options and you can always contact a local mountaineering group to learn some of the necessary skills.

Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography, Snowshoeing

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Winter

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

4.5 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1200 Feet

Features:

Forest
Lake
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Thadd Zehnder

If I'm not outside I'm somewhere wishing I were

More Adventures Nearby

Explore Teddy Bear Cove

Washington / Teddy Bear Cove Parking

On Chuckanut Drive (State Route 11) pull off onto a small, unmarked, one-way road that offers parking for Teddy Bear Cove before quickly rejoining the road.

Backpack to Grand Park in the Olympics

Washington / Obstruction Point Trailhead

The beauty of many of the north coast trails in the Olympic Peninsula is that your car does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Nick Lake
11 Saves

Hike to Three Fingers Lookout

Washington / Three Fingers Trailhead

Approximately 11 miles east of Granite Falls, WA, on the Mt. Loop Highway,  turn onto Forest Service road 41 and follow this road for 18.0 miles to the trailhead.

James Brady
45 Saves