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Climb in the beautiful pine forest from Snag Lake to the bench where gem-like Rainbow Lake is found.

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Point to Point

6,755' 2,059 m


6,113' 1,863 m


675' 206 m


185' 56 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (15°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Rainbow Lake Trail begins and ends at trail junctions deep in the Lassen Volcanic National Park backcountry. Therefore, it is typically a section of a longer hike. As described here, Rainbow Lake Trail begins on the west side of Snag Lake at a well-marked trail junction with Butte Lake to Snag Lake Trail (West) and Grassy Creek to Snag Lake Trail. This trail junction is in an open area covered with deadfall between widely spaced pines, very close to Snag Lake. To the east, across Snag Lake, Mt. Hoffman rises to 7,833 feet. To the west is the bench that Rainbow Lake Trail climbs up on.

Although Rainbow Lake Trail begins in an open area, it soon enters the pine forest with its low ground cover. Almost immediately the trail starts climbing, following a small seasonal stream valley that is to the left (south of the trail). As the trail climbs there are great views of Mt. Hoffman for a while, but eventually it can no longer be seen through all the trees. This climb lasts for about a mile with a few somewhat steep sections.

At about the 1.0 mile mark, the climb eases, views of Lassen Peak emerge to the west-southwest, and by the 1.2 mile mark the highest point of Rainbow Lake Trail is reached. The pines are thinner here on this high bench in the center of the park. At about the 1.4 mile mark the trail begins a very gradual descent for about a half mile to arrive at the east end of Rainbow Lake. The forest becomes thicker as Rainbow Lake is reached.

After 2.0 miles Rainbow Lake Trail ends on the north shore of Rainbow Lake, at a trail junction with Rainbow Lake to Nobles Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Pine forest with low ground cover between the trees. Wildflowers. Shy deer as evidenced by tracks.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 3 votes


in Butte Lake


  4.0 from 3 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Butte Lake


in California


4 Views Last Month
452 Since Jun 19, 2020
Intermediate Intermediate



Rainbow Lake
Jul 12, 2020 near Chester, CA
Lassen Peak in the distance to the west, is seen across Rainbow Lake close to Rainbow Lake Trail.
Jun 19, 2020 near Chester, CA
Mt. Hoffman, 7,833 feet, with Snag Lake below seen through the trees, looking east from Grassy Creek to Snag Lake Trail.
Jun 19, 2020 near Chester, CA
Mt. Lassen catching the first light of dawn and reflecting into Rainbow Lake.
Jun 29, 2021 near Chester, CA
Lassen Peak is seen in the distance to the west, just before dropping down to Rainbow Lake on Rainbow Lake Trail.
Jun 19, 2020 near Chester, CA
A seasonal stream (on the right) that flows down into Snag Lake, is followed upstream through the pines by Rainbow Lake Trail to the bench where Rainbow Lake is found.
Jun 19, 2020 near Chester, CA



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jul 14, 2023
Tom Herr
Burned forest on rolling hills ending near my campsite on Snag Lake. On a 19 mile backpack, also camping at Horseshoe Lake. 2mi
Jun 17, 2020
Joan Pendleton
Jul 6, 2019
Tilman Giese
Sep 23, 2017
James Butler
burned 2mi
Sep 23, 2017
Marc Daniel

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