Avoid the crowds at Pratt or Mason Lake and get a secluded campsite at Rainbow Lake. From Rainbow enjoy great runs to Island Lake and Bandera. Wake up early and run up Mount Defiance to get views or Rainier to yourself. Duration: Overnight.

I backpacked to and setup basecamp at Rainbow Lake and then I ran over to Island Lake. After enjoying the peace and quite I ran up to the top of Bandera Mountain and enjoyed the views. Then, I ran back to basecamp and spent the night. The following morning I ran up to the top of Mount Defiance and had an amazing view of Mount Rainier at 8:30 am with no one around.

Once I was ready, I ran back to basecamp and packed up my items and ran into some folks who I met last year and we hiked down together exchanging stories. My goal was always appreciate their stories and NOT to one up them. Amazing what folks have to say and tell if you listen.

I had Rainbow Lake to myself that day, Everyone camps at Mason Lake or Pratt Lake but no one ever goes to the lakes in between. To stay there, you do have to pay for a parking pass.

Once I finished up, I usually meet one of my sons at Red Robin in Issaquah for a late lunch or early dinner.

To get here: From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 45. Turn left and cross under the highway, then veer left onto FR-9030. About one mile from the exit, stay left at the fork onto Mason Lake Road, FR-9031. Park in the lot at the end of this road, 3.8 miles from the highway. There is a privy at the trailhead. Ira Spring (#1038) Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District.

Pack List

  • An extra pair of clothes to change into when you're heading to your final destination
  • Water filter
  • I always pack my Garmin GPSMAPS 62stc
  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
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Activities Camping, Running, Backpacking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike to Bandera Mountain

466 Saves

Summit Mt. Defiance

483 Saves

Backpack to Mason Lake via Ira Spring

313 Saves