Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    826 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    16.9 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Be the first to add a review!
    Directions to Trailhead

    Rainbow Lake Trail

    Rainbow Lake Trail

    Download an interactive map and guide on your phone today!

    Table of contents

    The Rainbow Lake Trail is a scenic 16.9 km out-and-back route that will take you through the woodlands near Whistler to the picturesque waters of Rainbow Lake. Boasting some of the most pristine waters in the area, this alpine lake is the perfect destination to reconnect with nature while taking in sights of wildflowers and nearby mountains. This route is the perfect day trip option from Whistler if you are looking for a moderate workout with stunning views.

    Route Description for Rainbow Lake Trail

    The Rainbow Lake Trail is located within the Twenty-One Mile Creek Watershed, and as a result, there are some restrictions placed on the usage of the trail. Due to Rainbow Lake’s use as a source of drinking water, there is no swimming in the lake or any of the streams, rivers, or lakes within the watershed. This also means that the trail cannot be used by mountain bikers or dogs. Additionally, the trail is subject to frequent closures, as black and grizzly bears are commonly seen in the area. Hikers should always bring bear spray and travel with a hiking partner to ensure a safe hike along the trail.

    These concerns aside, the Rainbow Lake Trail is a beautiful hike through the scenic woodlands around Whistler that will truly leave you feeling as though you have reconnected with nature. The trail itself is extremely well-maintained and offers a good variation of terrain. After the lookout at Rainbow Falls, the trail gradually begins to climb uphill at a steady pace toward the alpine waters of Rainbow Lake. Along the way, hikers will pass through lovely stretches of dense forest and cross over wonderfully engineered suspension bridges before arriving at the picturesque valley containing the scenic lake nestled amongst the rugged mountains. If you find yourself around Whistler and the area is open, then the Rainbow Lake Trail is definitely a route to have on your list.

    Setting out from the parking lot along Alta Lake Road, make your way into the tree cover and follow the trail as it runs parallel to the creek. You will climb slightly uphill before reaching a gravel road. Follow this to the right for 30 m as the road bends toward the south and pick up the trail on your right as you re-enter the forest. Continue along the trail, where you will eventually reach a junction for a short detour to your right that leads down to Rainbow Falls. This is an optional route that will add a few extra minutes to your hike, but provides a beautiful view of two convergent waterfalls.

    Along the main trail, continue uphill, where you will again come to a junction with a gravel road. Cross over this road and pass by the building to continue along the Rainbow Lake Trail. After 50 m, you will approach a junction to the left. Pass this by and continue along the wide gravel path for another 250 m to reach a junction with the Flank Trail on your left, as well as the first of three outhouses along the trail. Ignore the trail to the left and keep straight to follow the gravel path uphill.

    1.2 km after the junction with the Flank Trail, you will come upon a sign for the Whistler Watershed. Pass by the wooden gate and follow the trail to the left as it climbs uphill through the dense tree cover. Here, hikers will meander uphill through the forest and cross over several small bridges before coming up to the second outhouse. Continue briefly along the route to get to a cable bridge that you will need to cross in order to continue down the trail. Shortly after the bridge, there will be an opportunity to the left to catch a glimpse of rushing water as it cascades down a beautiful waterfall.

    Keep on the trail as it works its way through the forest, eventually taking you to a boggy area spanned by a series of boardwalks. Watch your footing along this old section of trail, as many of the planks along the boardwalk are broken/loose. Shortly after this area, you will come to a suspension bridge over the Gin and Tonic Creek.

    After crossing the swaying expanse of the bridge, make your way along the final stretch of the trail toward Rainbow Lake. Here, you will see Rainbow Mountain to your right before crossing over Twenty-One Mile Creek. Continue on the trail for another 600 m to reach the pristine shores of Rainbow Lake. Take some time to explore the trail around the lake, where you will find the third outhouse along the trail, as well as a route leading to the far side of the water. From here, you will be able to catch some amazingly scenic views of the lake and its mountainous backdrop, including Black Tusk off in the distance. When you have had enough of the scenic woodland landscape, make your way back along the same trail to return to the carpark, having completed the Rainbow Lake Trail.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Rainbow Falls

    Rainbow Falls is a unique rock formation, in that it is actually two waterfalls that converge on the same position. Located along Twenty-One Mile Creek, this scenic waterfall is best visited in the spring, when water levels are at their highest; however, the rushing waters of the creek are still strong enough for a spectacle at later points of the year.

    Rainbow Lake

    Rainbow Lake is one of Whistler’s most pristine alpine lakes and also serves as one of its main sources of drinking water. This means that swimming and camping are prohibited at the lake. Visiting the area in August, hikers will be able to take in the beauty of the lake while surrounded by scenic meadows of wildflowers and an amazing view of Black Tusk in the distance.

    Insider Hints for Rainbow Lake Trail

    • Wear proper hiking footwear due to variations in terrain.
    • As with many BC hiking routes, bring bear spray.
    • Dogs are not allowed on this trail, as it is located within the Twenty-One Mile Creek Watershed.
    • Camping is not permitted at the lake, but hikers wishing to do so can camp at nearby Hanging Lake.
    • Three outhouses are located along the trail. The first at roughly 2km, the second at 5km, and the last near Rainbow Lake.

    Getting to the Rainbow Lake Trail Trailhead

    To get to the parking area for the Rainbow Lake Trail from Whistler, head north on BC-99 N and make a left turn onto Alpine Way. Make another left turn after 190 m onto Rainbow Drive, which will veer to the left after 1.1 km and become Alta Lake Road. Continue on for 1.9 km to find the parking area on your right.

    Route Information

    • When to do:


    • Backcountry Campsites:


    • Pets allowed:


    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Rainbow Lake Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


    No reviews
    Write a review

    Add a review

    You must be logged in to post a comment.


    Let someone else do the hard work, book a custom tour in over 85 countries.

    Chat with us on our contact page or fill out the form below!

    Nearby Trails

    10Adventures Trail App

    Take your trails online! Keep track of your route along the way.

    Download for free today.

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter