Mt. Rainier National Park
Cayuse Pass from “our” side of the mountain is scheduled to open in early May, and we love exploring the Park before the summer crowds arrive. The amazing part is that you can visit snow up on the Pass—but hike in shorts just 10 or 15 minutes before or after you drive up. Gotta love Spring!
As soon as Cayuse Pass opens, you’ll be able to visit the Ohanapecosh area of the Park with its 1000 year old trees and gorgeous waterfalls. (See below.) The Sunrise road to the White River Campground is scheduled to open by Memorial Day weekend, as are the Stevens Canyon Road and Chinook Pass.
Here are some of our favorite springtime trails in the Park:
- Grove of the Patriarchs: This is, hands down, our favorite springtime trail. The Grove of the Patriarchs is a stand of 1000 year old trees on an island in the Ohanapecosh River. They’ve managed to survive forest fires through the years and it’s hard to believe that they were alive when the Magna Carta was signed. This short trail is great for all ages, and kids will love going across the suspension bridge!
- Silver Falls:In the spring, you’ll hear this waterfall long before you see it. Silver Falls is the largest volume waterfall in Mt. Rainier National Park, and the springtime snow melt makes it a sight to behold. You can either hike to Silver Falls from the same parking lot as the Grove of the Patriarchs (about a mile roundtrip) or take a short .3 mile (each way) hike from Highway 123.
- Eastside Trail: Although you might find a patch or two of snow, this trail is virtually snow free. It has miles and miles of gorgeous waterfalls, bridges and forest trails. You can actually start at the small trailhead near Deer Creek and hike its entire 11-mile length (one way), or just hike a small section of it and turn around when you get tired. Gorgeous!
- Glacier Basin Trail: This trail starts from the White River Campground and is the route climbers take to the summit from this side of Mt. Rainier. When the trail opens around Memorial Day, it will still be snow covered and is probably easiest with snowshoes or Yax Trax (once it gets boot-packed). However, it’s kind of amazing how quickly it melts out after that!
- Crystal Lakes Trail and Shriner Peak Trail: The trailhead for Crystal Lakes is just about 5 miles from here, while the trailhead for Shriner Peak is on the other side of Cayuse Pass. What they have in common? Lots of switchbacks, snow and gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier Crystal Lakes is about 5 miles roundtrip, and you will be hiking/snowshoeing in snow. Shriner Peak is about 8 miles roundtrip, but it is more exposed than Crystal Lakes so should start to melt out a little sooner.
- AND DON’T FORGET: One of the things we like most about our side of the Park is the fact that this whole area is either National Forest or National Park. So the topography, flora and fauna are similar no matter where you go. Someone just drew an arbitrary line, and designated one side National Forest and one side National Park! So be sure to check with us for some other great springtime adventures!