Today's hike was named Rainbow Loop. The trail, which was made piecemeal by several different paths led around the small mountain community of Rainbow at the foot of Mt. Charleston. There were 12 hikers.
We started out from the Fletcher Canyon Trail parking area and walked up the road to the Visitor Center for a pit stop. From there, we hiked through the lower portion of the Fletcher Campground staying parallel to the highway. Leaving the campground, we continued up the drainage to find the Rainbow community after about a mile of hiking. Continuing straight, we followed a path which eventually turned to the left and went uphill. It was on this rather steep part of the trail that we found this small shelter made by logs and sticks situated in the aspen trees.
This part of the trail isn't maintained so, at one point, Rick did his weight-lifting routine and made way for a few women hikers. Such a gentleman! We finally junctioned with the South Loop Trail which, if followed to its end, leads to the summit of Mt. Charleston, itself. We followed it for less than a mile. This brought us almost to the halfway point where we sat for a break and a snack. While we were snacking, a ranger came by with her dog and we talked about the cutting of trees that they were doing in the area for fire prevention.
One more turn to the left off of the South Loop brought us to the highpoint of our hike and a turn to the right put us on a small wooded path leading down. This was a favorite part of the hike since it was shaded and had soft earth to walk on. There were small wildflowers placed here and there for the short mile we hiked on the path.
The small trail ended at a dirt road which wound among small summer log cabins. We hiked down the road through large ponderosa pines, passed around a road gate and hit a road of asphalt surrounded by larger year-round homes. This was the upper portion of Rainbow. We hiked down the Rainbow road passing by beautiful mountain real estate and came to the spot where we had started the loop portion of the hike. From there, we hiked back to the campground, through the campground, back to the Visitor's Center, and down the road to our cars.
The hike was around 5.7 miles with an elevation gain of around 1100-1200 feet. It was a very pleasant hike. Although there were black clouds above, we did not experience the rain that came down a few miles up Kyle Canyon from where we were.