6 Things I Learned On My Rainbow Falls Hike

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes, California
Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes, California

I’ll start my story out with letting you know that I am a novice hiker. I hike a few times every year and luckily I have never had any issues or gotten lost, until somewhat today.

Today, I decided to hike a quick 3 mile round trip trail to Rainbow Falls in the town of Mammoth Lakes, California. The hike out to the waterfall was easy, but on the way back I got lazy, made a few mistakes, and got a little lost. Now I eventually made my way back to the trail head, but the hike was a learning experience.

I learned a lot today about hiking that I will remember for next time. Here are a few of the things I learned :

1: Be prepared for your hike

I wasn’t planning on hiking the Rainbow Falls trail. I drove by and saw the sign and said, what the heck, lets do it. I didn’t prepare and things could have turned out worse. Because I rushed everything, I forgot water and my GPS unit all while hiking alone. It’s best to be prepared.

2: Bring water

This is a given. I know to bring water, yet I didn’t this time. I know, I know, very stupid. I told myself that water wasn’t necessary for such a short hike since I have never had an issue in the past. This is wrong. No matter the distance of the trail, always bring water. You might not need it this time, but when you do, you will be glad you brought it.

3: It is best to hike with another (human) buddy

I hit the trail today with my dog. He keeps me company and doesn’t complain but I now realize that if I were to injure myself on the trail or get lost (like I did somewhat), then the only help I would receive from him are licks. Always bring another person on hikes with you, especially ones where the weather can change quickly or you can get lost easily (or if there are bears around).

4: Bring a GPS Unit

I have a GPS receiver with maps and way points. I never get lost with it. For some strange reason, I decided not to bring my GPS with me on the trail today. Bad idea. If you have access to a GPS unit that logs your tracks and even better shows trails, make sure to bring it with you. Unless the batteries run out or you lose it, odds are you will never get lost. If you don’t have a GPS unit available, at least make sure you bring a waterproof map.

5: Pay attention to trail makers and signs

There are many trails in the Mammoth Lakes area. Many of these trails intersect each other. On the way back from Rainbow Falls, I ran into more than a few forks in the trail. I missed one of these forks today and went the wrong way for a few minutes thanks to me paying more attention to my camera and phone than the trail and signs in front of me. Luckily, I realized my mistake quickly and turned around and got on the right trail. Pay attention to all signs.

6: Enjoy the journey and the destination

The hike to Rainbow Falls takes you through some beautiful scenery that will make you want to slow down and take everything in. Better yet is the destination. The spectacular waterfall drops 101 feet into the San Joaquin River. The hike is still worth it in autumn when the water flow is low, but so are the crowds. Just remember to enjoy the hiking experience and the destination. This is what makings hiking great.


I don’t hike too often so much of this information might seem silly to you but if I can help one person then thats alright with me. Just remember the basics whenever you hike no matter if you will be hiking for one hour, one day, or one week.

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