• Distance 2.7km
  • Altitude max 1654m
  • Altitude min 1628m
  • Duration 1 hours
  • Trail type Return
Four Stars

Four Stars

Not to be missed

The Australian Hiker Experience Rating is a measure of the overall quality of a walk. It is intended to help you decide whether to walk a trail, not to measure anything objective. Consider this our personal take on the walk.

Grade Three

Grade Three

Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20km.

The Australian Grading system is based on the australian standard for measuring trail hikes.

Rubbish Bins
Camping Grounds

Rainbow Lake Walk NSW (2.7km)

Kościuszki National Park

Nearest Town

Jindabyne, NSW

Best Time of the Year to Travel

  • For newer hikers – November-late March
  • For experienced hikers who can cope with snow conditions and navigation off trail – year round

Starting Location

Rainbow Lake trailhead car park on Kosciuszko Road

Finish Location

Rainbow Lake trailhead car park on the left side of Kosciuszko Road heading towards Charlotte Pass

Rainbow Lake Walk Review

For me this is another of those rare walks that’s all about the destination and not the journey. While I had preconceived views about this walk, when it comes time to revisit my top 10 hike lists this one is likely to make the cut.

The Rainbow Lake Walk starts at its own designated car park along the side of the road on Kosciuszko Road – the signpost comes up on you quickly when you are driving so you are likely to notice it before you have time to stop. The car park is located on the left side of the road if you are coming from Jindabyne and will hold around 12 cars.

The walk starts on the left side of the car park with a small worn interpretation sign about 10 metres in being the only obvious indication that its a trail. The trail itself is reasonably grassy and broad, winding its way through the treed landscape and looks to provide management vehicle access where needed. On the day I did this walk there were a couple of downed trees and large branches that had to be navigated but apart from that the walk to Rainbow Lake is relatively easy taking around 20-25 minutes.

The big bonus on this walk is that it is entirely within the tree line and as a result you are protected from all but the strongest winds. Rainbow Lake is nestled within its own valley and surround by trees on most sides. Given the huge numbers of walkers who do the Mount Kosciuszko Walk on a daily basis, the Rainbow Lake Walk is the exact opposite.  On the day I did this walk there were two other groups of hikers spread around the lake and even then you really had the feeling you had the place to yourself.

As mentioned this walk is really about the destination. There are plenty of different spaces, both treed and grassed, around the lake that you can just park yourself and take in the views. I did just that and sat on a rock right on the lake’s edge. As is the case with the Australian Alps, the March Flies are very persistent so long sleeves and long pants are essential although that won’t stop them from trying to bite you.

This is without a doubt a ‘feel good’ place’ and one I could quite happily spend a fair amount of time just taking in the beauty. If you are looking for a place for a peaceful lunch in Kosciuszko National Park you can’t go past Rainbow Lake.

Rainbow Lake car park

Car park signage

Walk start for Rainbow Lake. This trail is on the left hand side of the car park. The signage is visible towards the right of this image

Rainbow Lake trailhead interpretation signage. It’s a bit worn but still readable

Trail example

Downed tree near the start of the trail

Small water crossing near the trail start

Trail example showing grassy track

Rainbow Lake trail example

Another downed tree

Grasshopper on the trail

Rainbow Lake coming into view

View to Rainbow Lake opening up

Old infrastructure on the lake. Note the grassy areas at the sides of the lake to sit and take in the view

March Fly on Tim’s leg. If you look closely you can see it is slowly working its mouth parts through the fabric on his pants to bite. Wear long pants and a long top as these flies do not care about insect repellent

Returning to the trailhead

Back to the trailhead

Trail Video


This video includes a slideshow from start to finish of this walk that includes still and video images to give you a real time idea of what the walk is like

Getting There

Travel to Jindabyne via Cooma and head towards Charlotte Pass.  As you enter the National Park and travel along Kosciuszko Road you will see a sign for Rainbow Lake.

There is a park entry fee which you can pay for as other a day or annual pass at the visitor centre in Jindabyne or at the toll gates on nearing the park. The visitor centre in Jindabyne opens at 8:30am most days but check the timings on the website just in case.

The Rainbow Lake car park is on the left just after the Dainers Gap Chain Bay

Entering the National Park

Park entry point

Keep an eye out for the sign to Dainers Gap Chain Bay as you head towards Charlotte Pass. Once you see this the Rainbow Lake car park is very close on the left side of the road

Rainbow Lake car park

Car park signage

Things to Know

  • Phone: There is variable phone signal on this track but its not very good (Telstra only)
  • Water: You need to bring your own water. There are some locations to draw water on the trail but if doing so you should filter
  • Toilets: There are no toilet facilities on this trail
  • Trail: This trail consists of formed natural track
  • Dogs: NOT allowed
  • Other: 
    • The March Flies can be ruthless from about mid November-Mid March so wear long sleeves and long pants. They don’t care about insect repellent and can bite through clothing
    • If you plan on camping be aware of the restrictions regarding where you can camp
    • Come prepared for bad weather conditions and low temperatures regardless of the time of the year even if its not forecast


This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker

Australian Hiker Newsletter

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