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Island Lake - Rainbow Lake

Snoqualmie Region > Snoqualmie Pass
47.3979, -121.4866 Map & Directions
Length
11.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
3000 feet
Highest Point
4400 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Hard
Rainbow Lake peeks through the trees. Photo by backpackingRN. Full-size image
  • Mountain views
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

The trailhead might be busy, but heading to Island and Rainbow Lakes may afford you more solitude than you'd expect on the crowded I-90 corridor. It's a touch longer than many day hikers want to tackle, and even most of the campers will drop off past Ollalie, or Pratt Lake junctions, leaving you (and a few hardy others) to discover these alpine jewels. Continue reading

Rating
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Hiking Island Lake - Rainbow Lake

The trailhead might be busy, but heading to Island and Rainbow Lakes may afford you more solitude than you'd expect on the crowded I-90 corridor. It's a touch longer than many day hikers want to tackle, and even most of the campers will drop off past Talapus, Ollalie, or Pratt, leaving you (and a few hardy others) to discover these alpine jewels.

The first mile of trail will be busy on a weekend, but after passing a junction with the Granite Mountain trail, some of the crowds disperse – or at least spread out. Continue hiking along the wide Pratt Lake Trail, crossing several sweet streams fed by snowbanks high up on the flanks of Granite. In early spring, these stream crossings can be high, even treacherous, so evaluate each crossing for safety according to your own ability.

Three miles in, you’ll come to a junction. The left-hand fork leads to the Ollalie Lake Trail in just 0.2 miles. Some hikers may duck down this trail, but press on! Climb a gentle grade, and within a third of a mile reach a clear spot in the trail. Here Ollalie Lake lies still and green in the valley below you, and Rainier hovers above. In this open area, beargrass flourishes in early spring. It’s a great spot for a snack and photo opportunity.

After your snack, continue uphill to the Pratt Lake junction. The trail to your right leads to a large sapphire-like lake on the north side of the ridge you're on. To get to Island and Rainbow Lakes (which remind hikers more of emeralds), follow it to the left.

You'll continue a further mile along the south slopes of Pratt Mountain to a high point. Here you're faced with a decision. Turn left off the main trail and descend 0.4 miles to Island Lake, or hang a right and drop a half mile to Rainbow Lake.

Either location is a good one, and luckily a bootpath connects the two lakes, so you can visit both before heading back the way you came.

WTA Pro Tip: You can also access Island and Rainbow Lakes via the Ira Spring Trail and Mason Lake, but parking is much more restricted from this end. Consider carpooling, or arranging a pickup/dropoff if you want to start from this end.

WTA worked here in 2010!

Hike Description Written by
Anna Roth, WTA Staff

Island Lake - Rainbow Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.3979, -121.4866 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Seattle, head east on I-90 to exit 47. Turn left and drive over the freeway, then turn left at the T. Proceed to the nearby Pratt Lake-Granite Mountain parking area. Be aware that this parking area gets very full and with people parking on both sides of the road, sometimes leaving is harder than finding a spot. Northwest Forest Pass and Alpine Lakes Wilderness Permit required; both available at the trailhead.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Snoqualmie Region > Snoqualmie Pass

Pratt Lake (#1007), Mount Defiance (#1009)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Bandera No. 206

Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass No. 207

Green Trails Snoqualmie Pass Gateway No. 207S

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Island Lake - Rainbow Lake

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