HIKING IN MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
We’re having an incredible Fall! Here are some of our favorite Fall trails in Mt. Rainier National Park as of October 25, 2012.
Crystal Lakes Trail: The very first trailhead you see on the left side of Highway 410 (about 4 miles from Alta Crystal Resort) is for a trail called Crystal Lakes. This is a great – but steep – trail to 2 gorgeous mountain lakes surrounded by jagged peaks, with some great views of Mt. Rainier on the way. (Sounds pretty good, huh?) The total trail is 6 miles roundtrip with a 2500’ elevation gain. This trail is usually hikable until Highway 410 closes sometime in November.
FROM CHINOOK PASS
Highway 410 across Chinook Pass usually stays open until sometime around Thanksgiving, or when the first big snowstorms come. Click here to read more about hiking in this area. Just so you know, the Fall colors up on Chinook Pass are some of the best in the State!
Tipsoo Lake: This gorgeous lake is located next to the first parking lot. It’s beautiful any time of year (gorgeous reflections of Mt. Rainier). There’s an easy 1-mile hike around the lake that’s suitable for everyone, and picnic tables if you’d like to just relax and look at the lake for awhile.
Naches Peak Loop: Another wonderful trail for all ages! The whole trail is just 3.5 miles roundtrip, and for the best views of Mt. Rainier, it’s best hiked in a clockwise direction. In the Fall, this is a great spot to look for huckleberries and listen for bugling elk. To find the trail, park at Tipsoo Lake and follow the trail from the picnic area to Chinook Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail.
FROM THE OHANAPECOSH AREA:
The Ohanapecosh area is at a similar elevation to Alta Crystal Resort, so is generally snow-free into November. You’ll be able to visit this area as long as Highway 410 and 123 are open, usually until right around Thanksgiving.
Many guests race right by this area. Big mistake (in our humble opinion)! The Ohanapecosh area may not offer views of Mt. Rainier’s summit, but there’s a reason Native Americans called it by this name, which means “looking down on something beautiful” or “clear water”. The Ohanapecosh has the most amazing stand of 1000 year old trees, a beautiful river hike and the largest volume waterfall in the Park. As you walk the cushioned trails, you may find it hard to believe that a hot springs hotel operated in this area all the way into the 1950s. Read on…..
Trail of the Patriarchs: This is an easy short hike (suitable for all ages) to a stand of 1000 year old trees on an island in the middle of the Ohanapecosh River. The trailhead is easy to find. These magnificent western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas firs have survived countless forest fires through the years. As you enter the Grove of the Patriarchs, you’ll almost feel like you’re entering a cathedral – the feeling is that magical. It’s hard to believe that these trees existed when the Magna Carta was being signed. Click here to read more.
Silver Falls: From this same parking area, you can go the other direction and hike about 1 mile to gorgeous Silver Falls, the largest volume waterfall in the Park. (This is a pretty good claim to fame since the Park boasts some 122 waterfalls.) Alternatively, you can park at the Ohanapecosh Visitors Center (next to the Campground) and do a 3.5 mile loop trail that goes past Hot Springs and hugs the Ohanapecosh River. A great hike on a hot day. Click here to read more.
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!
Note: The Park is doing construction on the Stevens Canyon Road so you’ll need to take an alternate route via FS-52 from Packwood. Just ask in the office for a map and directions.
There are a lot of hikes in the Paradise area and the Visitor Center has ample maps. Some of the most popular hikes in this area include:
- 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.