Day at Rainbow Ridge

I earn commissions if you shop through the affiliate links on this page

I can definitely say now that Rainbow Ridge is as steep as it looks from the road below. I drove down on Saturday, June 6 with the hope of hiking to the top of Rainbow Mountain. But, there had been a lot of fresh snow the week before above 5000 feet elevation, so I scratched that plan pretty fast. I’m not a big fan of hiking through just a few inches of snow covering loose talus.

View of Rainbow Mountain from Rainbow Ridge | Prints

There is a platform just below the summit that looked like it was mostly snow-free, so I figured I’d give it a go and see if there’s a good view of the mountain from there. It’s a pretty wild 4000 feet of elevation gain in just under two miles.

There is a saddle just below the summit that looked like it was mostly snow-free, so I figured I’d give it a go and see if there’s a good view of the mountain from there. It’s a pretty wild 4000 feet of elevation gain in just under two miles.

View of Phelan Creek in the Alaska Range from Rainbow Ridge
View of Phelan Creek in the Alaska Range from Rainbow Ridge | Prints
Talus on the steep slopes of Rainbow Ridge
Talus on the steep slopes |Prints
wildflowers on talus at Rainbow Ridge
More wildflowers as the terrain steepens | Prints
Beautiful light as the clouds roll in | Prints
Me trying to wear a billed cap under my helmet during a scrambling section on garbage rock
Rocky and partially snow-covered mountains at Rainbow Ridge in the Alaska Range
Near the shelf

At 5000 feet, I start to get a break from the loose talus to scramble over some solid rock (solid by Alaska Range standards). This is much preferable to me. I like it when the ground doesn’t move beneath my feet. Until this point, much of the hike was “two steps forward, one step back”, except for when the opposite occurred and things got scarier. There was also an abrupt change in temperature, dropping below freezing. Suddenly there was a strong wind and it was snowing too.

Snow dusting on the rocky Rainbow Mountain
Snow on Rainbow Mountain from the saddle | Prints
Snow-covered rocky mountains in the Alaska Range
View to the south from the saddle on Rainbow Ridge | Prints

I started getting cold and noticed my lack of gloves. My hands stiffened up, it became difficult to operate my camera. Given the icy and snowy conditions, poor rock quality, and loose talus, I decided that I’d rather turn back than risk injury up here.

I took slightly a different route down. It was a bit steeper in places, but the ground was more cohesive than the scree slope. There was a lot more alder work at the bottom, I’m not sure it was worth the secure footing. I hate alders.

Sunlight glistening off Phelan Creek with the Delta River in the background.
Sunlight glistening off Phelan Creek and the Delta River in the background | Prints
google earth projection of my hiking route up Rainbow Ridge
Google Earth projection of my route

Oh. My feet hurt after that. It may have been the most intensive hike I’ve ever done that was less than 5 miles long. After packing up the car, I headed south to fill up with some spring water and chill my feet in the stream for a bit.

The evening light was turning golden. I had to make a few stops along the way to take some photos (and continue chilling my feet in the Delta River). Then I was treated to a wonderful sunset for the entire 3-hour drive home.

Golden light on the hills over Phelan Creek with Rainbow Ridge in the background
Golden light on the hills over Phelan Creek with Rainbow Ridge in the background | Prints
Golden light on the mountains in the Alaska Range
Prints
View over a flower filled meadow and pond at Mt. Moffit from the Ruby Creek Overlook along the Richardson Highway
View over a flower filled meadow at Mt. Moffit from the Ruby Creek Overlook along the Richardson Highway | Prints
Sunset colors in the Donnelly area south of Delta Junction | Prints
Sunset after midnight at Birch Lake
Gorgeous sunset after midnight over Birch Lake | Prints
More sunset colors over the Tanana River near Salcha. I watched this sky for over two hours on the drive home. | Prints

More photos from the hike and drive here: https://photos.lwpetersen.com/Date/2015/June/2015-06-06/

Check out my Alaska Travel and Hiking Guide!

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

hiking in nome creek
Light Pillars
Follow Me
Tweet