Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hiking Rainbow Falls at Mammoth Lakes, California

Rainbow Falls from the top view point

Location: Devil's Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles hike from Rangers Station to the top viewpoint, with additional 0.3 miles to the base of the waterfall. There are two choices on the way out, hiking back to Rangers Station for 2.5 miles, or hiking to Rainbow Falls trailhead at the Red Meadows Resort, for about 1.3 miles. 
Best Time: When Devil's Postpile National Monument Road is open ( which is summer). Usually, the road is closed after a major snowfall in November, and then, clearing of road from snow accumulation is done late spring or early summer, depending on snow accumulation. At other times of the year, the area can still be accessed for snowshoeing or skiing. 

Our hike:

We started our hike from Rangers Station, which is 2.5 miles away from Rainbow Falls. However, in 0.4 miles, we reached the base of Devil's Postpile.
Devil's Postpile

Fire and Ice created the unique basalt columns which is called Devil's Postpile. About 100,000 years ago, a lava flowed from an unknown location upstream. As the lava flowed down the valley, it ran into an obstruction which served as a dam to the lava's path. Pooling up to 400 feet behind the natural dam, the lava cooled. Conditions were such that the lava--that was incredibly uniform in its mineral composition--cooled at a very slow rate. As it cooled, it contracted and cracked, forming hexagonal columns. 80,000 years later, a glacier flowed through the same valley, revealing the sides and tops of the columns. Glacial polish can still be seen today at the top of the formation.- source:
Glacially Polished Hexagons which could be seen at the top of the Postpile formation
Devil's Postpile Columns Up Close

Looking at the columns, it is so amazing how nature works, where the columns lack horizontal jointing, and very symmetrical. Rock formations like these are rare, but can be seen also in a few other places in the world.

From the base of Devil's Postpile, instead of taking the trail straight to Rainbow Falls, we hiked up first to the top of the formation to see the works of ice. After taking in the scenery, we went back down to the main trail towards Rainbow Falls. From the base of Devil's Postpile to the top viewpoint of the waterfall did not have a lot of elevation change, thus the hike felt easy, despite this is a high elevation hike ( some may be affected by thinner air at high elevation). 
Rainbow Falls from the Top Viewpoint

For a lot of people, the top viewpoint is the end of the hike. However, Rainbow Falls could also be enjoyed from the base. We hiked down extra 0.3 mile to the base via steep stairs. The steps of the stairs were uneven, so one should really be watching for their steps. 

When we reached the river at the bottom of the stairs, we could not help it but unzipped the lower portion of our hiking pants so that it become shorts. We wanted to test the water. We actually had swim suits in our backpacks. However, when we felt the water was cold, we decided it was not so worth it to swim since we still had to hike back. So, we just spent some fun time enjoying the waterfall from the base. What is fun for us? Photoshoot of course. :)

Here are some pictures from our photoshoot, with hubby as our official group photographer. :)
Us, Marching Toward the Waterfall ( this was the toughest part of the hike, we did not anticipate the current was strong, and the rocks were so slippery! )
We Made it to the Log :) yey yey for us!!
And Of Course, we Have our Individual Posing Contest :) Who Do you think won? Haha! 
Of Course, our photographer had to have his photo taken too :)

After we had enough fun, we hiked to Red Meadows bus stop, which is only 1.3 miles from the top viewpoint of the waterfall. The total hike is only about 4.1 miles. After hiking, we had lunch at The Yodler in Mammoth Mountain, which serves Bavarian Cuisine. 

Lodging: Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain is a skiing (winter) and mountain biking (summer) resort. Thus, there are many hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals in the area. 

Nearby Nature Parks:

Actually, there are so many beautiful sights in the Eastern Sierra of California, I only mentioned Mono Lake and Yosemite because that is what often others asked about.

** pictures above were from our hike last summer 2013.**
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  1. so much fun, Beth. you have one cool official and personal photographer. :D

    who won? hmmmm, it has to be the top right for me. hehehe!

    love, love, love the Rainbow Falls!!! and those devil's postpile columns look like i have seen them in a movie before. ;)

  2. i love the photos, the falls and the devils postpile is wonderful, something you can treasure and cherish

  3. Oh my God, the view from above is breath-taking! So beautiful!

  4. Wow, I wonder why it is called DEvil's POstpile? That beauty should not be addressed as devil hehehe.

  5. Superb! That's good to know you made it to the log. For me, your photographer won the best pose.hheheheh.

  6. wow the rainbow looks like it is enjoying a swim! definitely a rare view and you guys are lucky to be able to witness it in flesh :-)

  7. Hay kakainggit! You sure know how to have fun. Who posed the best? Lahat kayo winner! You all look thrilled that you made it to the log. :-)

  8. yey for you!!!! hahaha of course your photographer has to be photographed too your joyful shots! wow and what a rainbow laden falls rainbow falls is! those hexagonal formations are amazing indeed...nature is the best math teacher :)

  9. First time to see the rainbow falls, amazing! My daughter would love to see that.

  10. Wow! the falls looks refreshing and beautiful :-) Hiking is so much especially doing it with special friends. Gosh! you have that stamina to reach your destination :-) I Wish I have that motivation too :-)

  11. Very beautiful indeed and that's the first time I've seen postpile formations up close. Thanks for sharing!

  12. The rainbow falls is really amazing! Hope I can see that in person too.

  13. Those photos of the falls reminds me of when my mom took me on my first vacation. I remember how much quality time I had with her.

  14. Wow! The place is very gorgeous Ate Betchai. The water looks cool. and I love the rainbow! <3