Area: Bandera

Length: (4.3 +) 2.3

Elevation: 4300 +650 -540

Condition: good, natural

Solitude: moderate

Appeal: medium

Bandera Plateau Lakes
views to lower lakes

Difficulty: easy

Administered: USFS, North Bend R.D.

Trailhead: Ira Spring TH

Connects to: Mason Lake, Pratt Lake

Guides: DNSnoq

Maps: USGS Bandera, Green Trails Bandera



The Bandera Plateau trail runs along the edge of a high bench, with northward views, separated from the noise of the I-90 corridor by the Bandera Mountain ridge. On the west end, it connects to the junction of the Defiance-Thompson trail. On the east end, it connets to the popular Pratt Lake trail, just north of Ollalie Lake. With both connections about 4 uphill miles from the closest trailhead, the area is remote enough to escape most of the highway noise and the bulk of the foot traffic. Enjoy meadows with beargrass, berries, and several small lakes.



Rainbow Lake


Take the Ira Spring / Mason Lake trail 4.3 miles, all the way to the end, due north of Mason Lake on the ridge 0.2 miles past the lake.

Turn right, to the east, at the ridge-top T intersection. Continue gently up and over the rib projecting northwest from Bandera Mountain. Enjoy the northwest views down to Kulla Kulla Lake. Shortly beyond that, the trail descends slightly to a relatively flat and open bench; you've reached the plateau. Located on north slopes, the Bandera Plateau area tends to stay moist, sometimes never drying out during the summer. Be prepared for thick, lush brush and a few mushy places.

At 0.4 miles from the junction, reach an unnamed pond; there are some campsites here. At 0.8 miles, reach the somewhat larger Rainbow Lake, also with campsites. Bring extra trash bags, since these sites sometimes receive unkind treatment.

Continuing east from Rainbow Lake, at 1.1 miles reach a clear but somewhat less prominent side trail going generally south. Along this 0.4 mile side trail, pass some mushy ponds, tread carefully. Then curve uphill slightly to the left, with some cliff-top views of Talapus Lake. After the final short descent to reach Island Lake, find several relatively nice camps in either direction along the lakeshore. Yes, there really are islands, lots of small, stony islands. On busy summer weekends, it is not uncommon for all the lake camps to be occupied.

Shortly east of the Island Lake cutoff, the trail climbs a short distance from the plateau onto the west flank of Pratt Mountain, then traverses evenly across the south slopes with slight downhill grade. At the east end of the trail, at 2.4 miles, reach the junction with the Pratt Lake trail. With appropriate preparation and care, lonesome and more technical side trips are possible to the summit of Pratt Mountain or down to Lake Kulla Kulla.