8 miles, roundtrip
(This is from what we recorded on a Garmin Fenix 6x)
Gain: 3252 ft.
Highest Point: 3900 ft.
If you are looking for a butt kicking hike near I90, then look no further than Rainy Lake. It has resemblance of the old trail of Mailbox, without the crowds.
You climb about 2900 feet over the course of 4 miles, but 1200 feet are in the last 1.3 miles leading up to the lake.
While some might consider the trail overgrown, it was actually pretty established and easy to follow. That doesn't mean there weren't some challenging sections. There are some rocky and rooted areas to navigate, plus a few deep mud spots that you have to go through.
Other than the fact Rainy Lake does a good job of kicking your butt, it does have pretty decent fishing. With how clear the lake is, you can see where the fish are and if they are interested in your hook.
There is actually a ton of parking available for this hike if you get there early enough. You start off at the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trailhead, and immediately after the huge bridge you'll turn right to follow the Pratt Connector trail.
After about half a mile, you'll come across another bridge. This is going over Rainy Creek, which is the creek you follow to reach the lake. Continue along the trail until you see an obvious left branch off which is the trail you want to follow.
Climbing to the Lake
Right away you gain some elevation, and you'll notice your heart rate increasing quite a bit. Don't worry, the trail then mellows out for a little while. You follow this same pattern for a few miles, where you climb a steep section, then you have a somewhat flat (sometimes downhill) section.
But don't be fooled. About 1.3 miles before the lake, you'll notice that you have only covered just over half of the entire elevation to reach the lake. Which means from here on out you are covering about 100 vertical feet per 0.1 mile. This is where faint nightmares of Mailbox old trail start to resurface.
What is really tricky is you reach 3900 feet, but notice the lake is below you. You'll descend a couple hundred feet to actually reach the lake, which means you are climbing back up on the way out.
When you reach the lake, there is a faint trail that goes around the right side which takes you to the boulder field. There is better access to the lake from this side, plus a couple campsites.
If you are hoping to catch some fish, this lake is a pretty good fishing lake. But overall, we would consider Rainy Lake to be a moderately beautiful lake, but not one of the top ones in the area.
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