Rainbow & Blazer Lakes

I hike to Rainbow Lake almost every year. It is one of my favorite destinations. In June, Kim and I visited Rainbow via Mason Lake. I wanted one more trip to check out the condition of the abandoned trail to Blazer Lake. It is also the time of year for ripe berries and a rainbow of leaf color. For this trip we chose to come in via the Pratt Lake Trail. We met in North Seattle and headed east to the Denny Creek exit. The lot was three quarter full but there was plenty of room left. Not like before Labor Day when an 8:05 am arrival. The day was overcast with sun forecast for the afternoon. Low clouds were not far above the valley floor. We were on our way by about  8:15 am. The Pratt Trail is a steady ascent though seldom steep. Before long we were in the clouds. The mist made for a neat feel. Especially after a summer of warm clear days.

Most hikers turn off at the junction with the trail up Granite Mountain. We saw a few folks already coming down. A father son combo went about two miles up the trail the day before and had a great time. They were coming down before 9:00 am. After gaining about 1,000 feet we were above the misty clouds. Now we could see a few blue spots in the sea of white above. We took a short stop at what the old 100 Hikes book called Lookout Point. Now just a grassy spot in the forest. It takes a bit of imagination to see this as a viewpoint in the distant past. We passed the junction with the trail down to Olallie and Talapus Lakes. Soon after we could hear very loud talking coming from Olallie Lake. We heard this for the next mile as we worked around the lake basin. Louder than I've ever heard campers.

All the creeks are low though they all have running water. Recent rain has recharged them after summer. At the Olallie Lake viewpoint we had very little view. No Mt. Rainier. No view even across the SF Snoqualmie River Valley. We saw a little mountain ash leaf color here but not a lot. Looking back to Granite Mountain the upper part looked to be in the clouds though they were swirling in and out. We had a little more blue overhead. We contoured around Pratt Mountain and reached the high point. It looked mistier ahead in the valley of Rainbow and Island Lakes.

Dropping down into the valley we passed some of the most colorful mountain ash leaves of the trip. except many have already fallen. Some good color but not as many leaves as expected. At the viewpoint of Mt. Defiance, most of it was in clouds. More blue sky not but not over Defiance. As we neared Rainbow Lake we had some small and not very sweet blueberries. A little farther on that changed. Big and very sweet low bush berries. Our pace dropped to zero. We met a volunteer ranger here who came in via Mason Lake. It was already 12:15 pm when we reached the lakeshore. A little sun, very little breeze, and no other hikers. Not a bad spot for our lunch break. We lounged around until 1:00 pm then headed for Blazer Lake. We crossed the outlet creek and immediately found the trail heading away from Rainbow Lake.

The start of the trail looks like it has been brushed out a bit. It drops quickly to cross a wide spot in another creek but the log there is sinking a little. We chose instead to turn left, fight through some brush, and cross the creek where it is narrower. We quickly reached the other side of the big spot in the creek where it empties into a lily pad filled pond. More ripe berries where the route heads into the trees. Some brush has grown across the route since last year's brushing but it is in good shape. We dropped to the viewpoint of Blazer Lake. The view of Kaleetan Peak above the lake was lost in clouds. Down we went on the steep and wet and slick trail. Up and over the bypass of the slid away trail and found a big log across the route. It needs a foothold cut as the log is sloping. We crawled across it. Where the route breaks out to the boulder field there are big branches down across the route. They are small enough to cut out.

We soon dropped to the shore. It is all forested so the lake is not seen until you are right there. The end was a bit muddy but dry enough to cross to the other side. We looked around in the forest for the big trees. Not many folks visit here. It was easier to climb up the slick route/trail. It did not take too long to get back up to Rainbow Lake. While we were away two groups had arrived and set up camp. With no shore left available we took a short break at berry central. When we had enough it was time to head back. While the trail was never busy, we did pass a number of folks heading in. Several groups would be lucky to reach camp before dark. We made better time on the way out though with more photos to take. We reached the trailhead at 6:00 pm.

While it was not a warm summer day, it was an excellent day for an 11.5 mile hike to two lakes. We had a lot of solitude as well. The leaf color was okay though not as good as we had hoped for. More than making up for that was the delicious berry crop. We used most of the now shorter daylight this day. I'll have to wait until next year to clear up the trees down on the route to Blazer Lake. All in all, we had a great time on the trail.

Very Cloudy Trail
Very Green
Kim Crosses Creek
Misty Cascades
A Little Misty
Long Boardwalk
Ridge Top Color
More Ridge Color
West Granite Mt.
Red & Green
Mountain Ash
Mt. Defiance In Clouds
Rainbow Meadow
Berry Bush Leaves
Rainbow Lake Relaxing
Lakeshore Color
Lily Pad Pond
Blazer Lake
Blazer & Pratt Mt.
False Hellebore
British Soldier Fungus
Pond Reflection
Kim In The Meadow
Berry Leaf Color
Cloudy Mt. Defiance
Heading Back
Framed Color
Better Color
More Color
Cloer Up
Even Closer
Last Leaf Color
Rainbow Lake Panorama
Kim At Blazer Lake With Pratt Mountain In The Distance
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016