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blue Upper and Lower Rainbow Falls

  4.8 ( 6 )

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3.5 mile 5.7 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 408' 124 m
Descent: -408' -124 m
High: 7,620' 2,323 m
Low: 7,212' 2,198 m


Avg Grade: 4% (3°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)


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Trail shared by Hiking Project Staff

Wildlife and wildflowers are abundant on this terrific trail to Devils Postpile and 2 amazing waterfalls.

Hiking Project Staff

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly An easy-to-moderate hike involving 2 amazing waterfalls, abundant wildlife, incredible geological formations, and a nice swimming hole at the lower falls.


Needs Overview


The hike starts in Devils Postpile National Monument. You can take a shuttle from Mammoth to get there. I would recommend to stop at the meadow along the way if wildflowers are blooming, as it is spectacular.

From the trailhead, you follow the San Joaquin river in a beautiful pine forest. The Devils Postpile is the first landmark you'll see, where columnar basalt formations jut up about 75 feet from the ground where you're standing. If you want to make a side trip, there is a short loop to the top of the postpile, where glaciers have smoothed it out.

The trail goes into a old burn zone, that has recovered magnificently, with wildflowers and grasses dominating, with new, young trees growing back in. Soon you arrive at Rainbow falls, a 101 foot waterfall on the San Joaquin, over a very slow eroding basalt. Unlike other river falls in the Sierra (minus Yosemite), it is a free fall. There are plenty of namesake rainbows here.

As you continue along the trail, the grasses and wildflowers are dominant on one side, while the other is wooded. When you arrive at the Lower falls, there is a great swimming hole. The lower falls is more of a river fall, wide and diagonal, but the amount of water makes is a special place to swim. Retrace your steps to return.

Flora & Fauna

This trail has an astounding amount of wildlife along it. We saw bears, lots of deer, and woodcutter ants (while they were building their sawdust pile from in a log). The flora consists of a pine forest environment, and a riparian riverside vegetation along the first portion of the trail. As you get farther along, there is a burn zone, with lots of wildflowers in spring, and fall when we were there.


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Oct 6, 2018
Diego Britos
Aug 31, 2018
Annisa Dea
Aug 27, 2018
T Olaes
Aug 13, 2018
Thibault Dargeou
Jul 7, 2018
Anesa Krug
Jun 24, 2018
Walter Jaramillo
Jun 23, 2018
Mike T
Jan 1, 2017
Court E

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 6 votes


  4.8 from 6 votes
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in California


60 Views Last Month
1,510 Since Aug 20, 2015
Intermediate Intermediate

This is a must if anyone is passing by the Mammoth area, and I really enjoy the shuttle ride from Mammoth to the trailhead. Best waterfall south of Yosemite in my opinion. Jan 22, 2016

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