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A 16-kilometre round trip, the hike can be done in one day, but camping is another option in summer.
While the trail itself does not take more than a half day, a network of connected trails offers days of additional hiking.
The Rainbow Range Trail (easy; 10 miles/16 km return) heads north from Hwy 20 near the park's eastern boundary, leading to an alpine environment.
Other trails in the area include the Octopus Lake Trail (moderate; 20 miles/32 km return),the Crystal Lake Trail (moderate; 31 miles/50 km return), and the Capoose Trail (moderate; 17.5 miles/28 km return).
I had glimpsed the magical landscape of the Rainbow Range, about 400km west of Williams Lake, during a short hike in 1996 and yearned for over 20 years to return and explore further into the heart of these painted mountains, preferably by horseback.
Called Tsitsutl in local dialect, the painted mountains of the Rainbow Range are made up of enormous domes and peaks of eroded lava and fragmented rock presenting an astounding spectrum of yellow, orange, red and lavender in varying hues.
We began our journey on August 17, a bit late for the wild flowers that grow in such profusion, but happily too late for the mosquitoes and horse flies, as well.
Our journey began on a sunny day at the Rainbow Range trail head.
The tour was organized into four hiking days from site to site, and the three remaining guided day-hike days.
Camp sites were well chosen for proximity to water, wood, tenting areas and meadows for the horses.
Our way began on the established park trails through an old forest burn, with a profusion of wild flowers.
In the background, the snowy Coastal Mountains shone in the sun behind the brown shapes of the Capoose Range.
After a scrumptious grilled breakfast, the group, all four eager dogs and the crew, except for Joyce, headed out on a day hike to Goat Mountain.
Our way was by clear blue alpine lakes, bogs and creek crossings strewn with wild flowers, and over progressively steep hillsides with scenic panoramas.
The final views looking into the vivid colours of the heart of the Rainbow Range were spectacular.
After an excellent dinner one of the guests played his guitar and sang.
We were lucky with nice sunny days and ideal hiking conditions, except for one day when the day hike needed to be cancelled due to rain.
For me and Alois, it was like joining a big cheerful family that we were happy to be included in. Listening to the stories of our Chilcotin crew, I realized they have always lived in what we call the wilderness and they call home, living lives much like the pioneers we read about from earlier days.
A group from Nature Vancouver backpacked into Rainbow Range in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park from 30 July to 3 August 2012 following the first week of our annual summer camp ay Butler Lake in the Niut Range (report to follow).
We spent four nights camped by a large lake variously known as McCauley Lake, M Lake, or Groundhog Lake.
The Rainbow Range is part of the Anahim Volcanic Belt of mountains, a volcanic complex which intrudes on the Chilcotin Plateau, and as such is separate from the Coast Mountains which constitute the bulk of Tweedsmuir.
The lake is one of many situated on a high subalpine plateau, with a number of small patches of trees to break the wind which blows almost constantly across the plateau from the Coast Mountains.
The Coast Mountains were visible in the distance to the west and south; to the east is the Tusulko River and beyond it a long range of peaks dominated by a high rounded and fluted summit known as The Molar.
The trail is reported to divide above the lake into a low route nearer the river and a higher route but we found it sketchy, and following the cairns was a routefinding challenge.
On day two, we headed up the valley to explore toward the pass at the head of the Tusulko.
The pass is informally known as Three Valley Pass, with lakes draining east to the Tusulko, west to Young Creek and north to Beef Trail Creek.
Trying as much as possible to avoid the many wet and muddy spots, we crossed below the pass and walked up the peak north of the Molar and overlooking the pass.
From there we were able to see clearly the intricately coloured Painted Ridge, the highlight of the Rainbow Range.
Day three began wet, cold and windy, and those of us who ventured out were happy to do a large circuit of the plateau, where we lost count of the number of lakes, meadows, ridges, and snowpatches.
On day four, with improved weather, we made for the pass again and keeping a higher and dryer line we found our way near the end of the plateau and up the back.
What had appeared to be a low plateau extending north from the campsite eventually turned out to be as high in elevation as the ridge we had climbed on the second day, and with even more open views north to Painted Ridge, west to Crystal Lake and Mount Mackenzie, and south to Octopus Lake and the Turner Lake - Ptarmigan Lake area in the south of the park.
On the final day we hiked out, and with the weather turning hot and sunny we gave thanks that we weren't hiking in in that weather (32 degree high in Tatla Lake).