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Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail | Mammoth Lakes Hike

Rainbow Falls Hike Overview: If you are searching for an epic waterfall hike, Rainbow Falls is it! This beautiful Mammoth Lakes hike features a 102 foot-high waterfall and spectacular views of the surrounding National Park area. The Rainbow Falls area was formed after a volcanic explosion approximately 75,000 years ago. Geologists refer to these rocks that as platy rhyodacite, a type of extrusive volcanic rock.

Rainbow Falls is medium to moderate  5.5 round-trip mile hike. The trail starts along the same Pacific Crest Trail section that starts the Devils Postpile hike and continues onward along the San Joaquin River. The trail is well marked, but plan ahead and bring plenty of water as there are no aid stations along the trail.

Estimated Time: 2-4 hours

Total Distance: 5-5.5 miles (roundtrip)

102 Foot-High Waterfall

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National Monument

Trail Pictures

Map & Directions

Total Distance (miles)

Total Estimated Time (hours)

Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail Photo Gallery

Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail Image Gallery (click on image to rotate through image/s) 

When to Go

Spring/Early Summer or Late Summer/Fall: The hiking trails are closed during the cold winter months and the park can be crowded during the summer. Therefore, the Go Hike Team recommends enjoying Rainbow Falls during the Spring or early Fall seasons.

Dog Friendly

No, dogs are not permitted on the Rainbow Falls hiking trail. Dogs are only allowed on leashes on the trails near the Sugarlands Visitor Center & Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

Rainbow Falls Trail Map & Directions

GPS Coordinates for Parking Lot Area: 37.63024, -119.0847

The parking area is located inside the National Park. A day parking permit is required. 

Intensity Levels

Barry-the-Bear: The Rainbow Falls Hike was a challenge, but worth it! I love seeing waterfalls and Rainbow Falls lived up to its expectation!

  • Intensity Level 90% 90%

Larry-the-Lion: I didn’t bring enough water, but luckily I ran into some hikers along the way who gave me an extra water bottle. Despite this oversight, I really enjoyed the Rainbow Falls hike and seeing the uninhabited views of the Mammoth Lakes area.

  • Intensity Level 55% 55%

Chris-the-Cheetah: EPIC! I try not to use that word to ofter, but Rainbow Falls is incredible! The hiking trail was fairly moderate and even suitable for a good trail run. I got to the water fall ahead of schedule, so I even had time to venture down to the bottom and dip my toes in the water!

  • Intensity Level 37% 37%

Trail Pictures

Map & Directions

Why We Liked It

Rainbow Falls is a natural wonder! The incredible size of the 100+ foot water fall is absolutely stunning and breathtaking! Even when we visited the waterfall in the late summer after the rainy season, there was still plenty of water flowing down it. The surrounding viewpoints are the perfect place for photographs or to just reflect and enjoy nature’s beauty.

We recommend this hike to adventurers exploring the Mammoth Lakes area who want see more wilderness, explore a natural wonder and venture along the Pacific Crest Trail.

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