Before You Go
The trailhead is a short walk or bike ride from Alta Lake so it’s perfect if you don’t have a car. It takes around 4 – 5 hours for the 16km round trip, the path is well marked and you only gain 850m elevation, so it’s one of the shortest and easiest day hikes around Whistler. You cannot swim in the lake as it’s the main water supply for Whistler Village. Pack an extra layer in case it gets cold, and the usual supply of food and water. You can fill up your water bottles from the river.
The trail leaves from the main road, as soon as you enter the forest it’s uphill until you reach the lake. After 5 minutes the trail branches to the right a few times and you eventually find your way to Rainbow Falls. Don’t worry too much about which trail you take, they all reconnect at the water treatment building.
It’s a relatively easy hike to reach the lake, through dense forest and across the river. The first glimpse of it through the trees is a welcome sight after seeing nothing but the forest floor for hours. It’s surprisingly blue, compared to the green and turquoise lakes of other hikes around Whistler. It’s tempting, but do not swim in the lake. There’s a campsite located a short way up the hill if you want to camp.
From Rainbow Lake, you can walk further into the mountains to Hanging Lake or Beverly Lake, an hour from Rainbow Lake, both beautiful spots to camp and swim. You can also make your way to the peak of Rainbow Mountain eventually, but we didn’t attempt this. Don’t forget to bring something to feed the birds with so you can feel like a Disney Princess!
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