Destination: Rainbow Lakes, Roosevelt National Forest
Time of Day: 9:15 am start (What you say? No herd of turtles? A yard sale was even attended prior to the hike)
Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles (total)/~396 feet/Easy
Time Elapsed: 120 minutes.
Comments: This is the second time we attempted this trail. The first time was the weekend of June 10th, when we discovered the road was closed to the trail head when we got to the gate across the road. We didn’t want to add an 8 mile round trip to our hike, so we decided to come back another day. Lesson learned – check this website for road closures ahead of time.
While we got an early start, we didn’t reach the trail head until 10 am. The last 4 miles of road are rough and narrow. Lower clearance cars can make it, but care must be taken to avoid the worst holes.
The trail started out relatively smooth near the Rainbow Lakes Campground (can access trail from campground), but became progressively more rocky at points. Nothing that required climbing on rocks, but careful foot placement would be wise. Trail did not have any steep areas.
This is a heavily trafficked trail and many people bring their dogs. The lake are supposedly well stocked so there are plenty of fishing poles being carried a well. We also heard a report of a moose at the second lake that is on the trail.
While this is a popular and heavily trafficked trail, it is not well marked. After reaching the first lake, we followed the trail until we reached a small snow field in the woods. On one side of the snow was what looked to be a well trafficked trail, and skirting the edge of the trail and going over a ridge was what appeared to be a social trail. We chose the wider trail. We chose poorly. The social trail was the actual trail and the wider, apparently well traveled path led to a dead end of downed trees. There were several other instances on the trail that a careful evaluation had to be done to select the correct way.
Alex was in a hiking mood and hiked the entire trail out and back. A great little trooper. This also explains why it took us so long to do a 2.6 mile hike.
Would we return? Definitely. We hope that we are able to enjoy the entire trail on our third go around. We here the view at the end is rather nice.