Rainy Lake is our favorite hike in the Ross Lake Area of North Cascades National Park. This hike runs a couple of miles roundtrip to a beautiful lake that reflects the snowy North Cascades on its crystal clear surface. Though the lake sits at a mere 1,100 feet, it reminded us of the high alpine lakes at 10,000 feet back home in Utah.
The trailhead to Rainy Lake begins near milepost 158 on Hwy 20. There is a parking area on the south side of the road. No matter where you park, you can find the trail by following the signs. Some people claim the hike is wheel-friendly, but I wouldn’t say it is easy for wheels. The path is wide and fairly flat, so it could be done, but we found a tree down across the trail that people were lifting strollers over. It might be wise to ask at the Visitor Center before taking wheels down this trail.
The trail hikes through thick trees, and there are plenty of people on it, but it is also really quiet. This area of the world just gives a feeling of solitude. The trail is primarily downhill to the lake, but it is not steep, so there is no big climb back.
When you reach Rainy Lake, there is a small viewpoint. The water was so clear that we could see fish swimming and rolling up to catch flies on the surface. Best of all, the mountains frame the lake perfectly. They reflect on the glassy surface. It was one of the prettiest lakes we’ve seen. The color of the water is beautiful since it is fed by glaciers.
This hike is an easy 2.0 mile hike for little ones. If you stop to do one hike in the Ross Lake Area, this should be it! Rainy Lake in North Cascades National Park should definitely be on your list.