Devil’s Postpile & Rainbow Falls
Page 80 & 84 of Hot Showers, Soft Beds, and Day Hikes in the Sierra in the Sierra by Kathy Morey
In the past, most of our visits to the eastern Sierra were focused around a multi day backpacking trip, so we usually didn’t have time to day hike in the area before or after our primary trip. I really enjoyed getting to see a different side of the Sierras on this visit as we took our time to savor day trips and shorter hikes each day.
Devil’s Postpile is a national monument right outside of Mammoth. We caught the Red’s Meadow/Devil’s Postpile shuttle into the valley from the top of the Mammoth Mountain Ski area. From there, it was a 45 minute ride down to the Devil’s Postpone trail head. Those 45 minutes were probably the longest 45 minutes of the entire trip for us and all of our fellow bus-riders (just imagine a two year old with no seat belt and a bus full of captive strangers to entertain). From the Ranger station parking lot, it was a short .5 mile walk to the Postpile. We took the spur trail up the hillside to the top of the Postpile first.
Zachary and I are geology geeks so we were thrilled by the crisp hexagonal tiles of basalt. These columns of rock were formed by the rapid cooling of a lava flow approximately 600,000 years ago, and over time they have begun to crumble into the famous pile of rubble we know as the Postpile. According to an interpretive sign, the shape of a hexagon appears in nature quite regularly because it is the most efficient structural shape (think of honeycombs and snowflakes). From the top of the Postpile, you can see the polished face of the lava flow, and the rows of future postpiles waiting for their turn to crumble.
Then, we began the gradual ascent up the trail and caught the bus at Red’s Meadow Resort.