EXPLORING MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
Fall is a glorious time to explore Mt. Rainier National Park. The summer crowds are gone, so you’ll often be alone with your thoughts on the trails. In September, expect many clear sunny days and cool nights. As the Fall progresses, the colors are glorious, particularly around the Chinook Pass/Tipsoo Lake area.
Our recommendations will change as the season progresses and roads close. For 2014, the Park plans to keep the Sunrise Road to the White River Campground open until November 3*. Cayuse and Chinook Passes will be open until the first heavy snowfall (usually later in November/early December), giving you access to the Chinook Pass area, the Ohanapecosh and Paradise. (The Stevens Canyon Road to Paradise is scheduled to close November 3*, but FS52 (the Skate Creek Road to Ashford) is usually open longer. The road to the very top of Sunrise is now closed for the Summer 2014 season.)
* All these dates are weather permitting. If it snows, the Park will close the roads earlier.
Here are some of our favorite Fall trails:
Although those of us who live around here (and many of our guests) prefer the Sunrise area of the Park, it is possible to visit Paradise from here as a day trip. In fact, Paradise has a great name (after all, isn’t everyone looking for a little paradise?!) and it’s beautiful. It just gets really crowded so, if you’re going, go early!
- The Paradise Glacier Trail. 5 ¼ miles roundtrip. 1000 feet elevation gain. This hike passes Myrtle Falls on the way to the Paradise Glacier. Unfortunately, the famous ice caves are no more, but this is a great hike nonetheless.
- Nisqually Vista Trail: This short 1-mile loop trail is good for those looking for an easy hike. It meanders through the meadows to a nice viewpoint looking down at the Nisqually Glacier.
- Narada Falls: Most people look at the falls from above, but you can get a much better view just down the trail from the parking area. The Narada Falls trail continues about a mile up the Paradise River to Paradise.
- The Skyline Trail: There are many variations to this trail and most likely, you’ll be happy with any of them. This is the longest hike through the Paradise Meadows.