Rainbow Basin
August 9-10, 2008
Big Rainbow Lake
Leaving the trailhead for Rainbow Basin.

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The Trinities are kind of a hidden gem located in the Boise Mountains, between Prairie and Anderson Ranch. There are some nice granite peaks rising up, which gives the area and good alpine feel. There are also plenty of lakes in the area, which are rare in the Boise Mountains. It’s a great area for a family hike, since there’s an abundance of wildflowers, nice scenery, and a series of small lakes that are connected via the well-marked “Rainbow Basin Trail”.

All summer, I’d been looking forward to taking my oldest son (about to turn five years old) on an overnight backpacking trip. It needed to be a maximum of three miles one-way, and preferably end with a campsite at a lake. After mulling over numerous options, I chose Rainbow Basin. We left Boise after noon, and were on the trail by 3pm after a 2.5-hour drive and some time checking out Big Trinity Lake.

The trail heads uphill in a hurry, and I was kind of wondering if my son’s four-year-old legs would be ready for the climb. He was in a great mood though, and we took a few rest stops along the way as we climbed the 600 feet of elevation gain in the first mile to the saddle overlooking Rainbow Basin. At this point we began to pass other people on their way back to the trailhead. The first couple groups asked my son how old he was, and then congratulated on how well he was doing for his age. From then on, my son didn’t even wait for the later groups to ask, he just proudly held up four-fingers. It was pretty dang cute.

After the saddle, the hiking got easier, as we wandered down the trail talking about how roots kept the trees from falling down, and which kind of flowers Mommy would like to see pictures of. The rest stops were frequent, but we were having a great time. After a while though, he was asking “how much longer” more and more often, so I was happy to see the sign for Heart Lake (our original destination). But when we got up to the lake, the one and only campsite was taken, so we had to forge on. My son had done three-mile hikes before, but those had been on much flatter terrain, so the last half-mile to Big Rainbow Lake taxed him a little. But when we got there, his fatigue seemed to vanish, and he happily tossed rocks in the water until I got camp all set up. We sat down and ate “pizza-dillas”, then swatted mosquitoes for a while before turning in for the night.

The next morning, my son was still in an excellent mood, getting his fill of playing in the dirt and throwing rocks in the lake. His Dad was in a pretty good mood too, just enjoying being in the mountains with him. Soon enough it was time to break camp and head out. Our pace was slower than the day before, but we stayed motivated knowing that we’d be stopping at Little Lookout Lake for some chocolate milk in the near future. From there, we slowed down quite a bit during the climb up to the saddle. But we still made steady progress up the hill while talking about my son’s newly acquired fondness for old dead snags that we passed along the way. It was all downhill from the saddle, and we hiked back to the trailhead for PB&J’s and more rock throwing in Big Trinity Lake. This overnighter with my son was defiantly one of the hiking highlights of the my summer
.

Map showing our route, 3 miles from the trailhead to Big Rainbow Lake.
Map showing our route, 3 miles from the trailhead to Big Rainbow Lake.
Leaving the trailhead.
Leaving the trailhead.
Trinity Mountain from Heart Lake.
Trinity Mountain from Heart Lake.
Panoramic view of Rainbow Ridge, south of Big Rainbow Lake.
Panoramic view of Rainbow Ridge, south of Big Rainbow Lake.
Reflection of alpenglow on Rainbow Ridge.
Reflection of alpenglow on Rainbow Ridge.
Getting ready to hit the trail after breaking camp.
Getting ready to hit the trail after breaking camp.
One of the many stream crossings.
One of the many stream crossings.
Looking back on Rainbow Basin from the saddle above Green Island Lake.
Looking back on Rainbow Basin from the saddle above Green Island Lake.

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