Rainbow Ridge

 
 

Rainbow Ridge is arguably the most striking feature along on the Richardson Highway. Rising 4000 precipitous feet above the road, the whole thing is basically one giant, colorful scree slope with a serrated top daring anyone to try and climb it. While it may look hopeless to the beginner, there are a few lower angle slopes that permit reaching a point along the ridge. Climbing Canwell Peak on the north end of Rainbow Ridge is not so tough, but it’s approached from the backside which isn’t quite as daunting. (Trying to climb Canwell Peak from its west ridge is much more difficult, but it’s fun and beautiful even if you only make it halfway.) Assaulting Rainbow Mountain (the highest point along Rainbow Ridge) requires a long, solidly steep climb that gets steeper near the top and requires a bit of tricky scrambling to make the summit, though the views are still great if you stop a little short. Hiking to the prominent notch in the ridge between the summit of Rainbow Mountain and Canwell Peak is also very steep but manageable, and once you make it to the notch it’s not that difficult to hike up the south slope where you gain a nice view looking up the ridge toward Rainbow Mountain. You can also make a steep hike to a summit around 6000 feet elevation adjacent to Rainbow Ridge’s south end, and if the horizon is clear you can see the Wrangell Mountains in the distance. All of these routes are recommended for experienced hikers only.

Route Length (full-day only): 1-3 miles (one-way), 3000-4000 feet elevation gain depending where you aim