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Explore Mt. Rainier National Park

Early Road Openings For Spring 2015!. Cayuse Pass (Highway 123) and Chinook Pass (Highway 410 to/from Eastern Washington) are now open, as is the Sunrise road to the White River Campground (half way up).  So now you can explore Mt. Rainier National Park from “our” side.

The Stevens Canyon Road (the most direct route to Paradise) opens May 22, and the road to the very top of Sunrise opens June 5—giving you access to the Park’s most panoramic views. 

Here are some of our favorite spring places to explore in Mt. Rainier National Park.  The lower elevation trails are snow-free, but be prepared for snow as you go up higher.  (The 10 Essentials are always a good idea.) 

  • Emmons Moraine Trail:  This is a great trail, and it’s good for most ages.  1 1/2 miles each way to the Emmons Moraine, with awesome views of the terminus of the Emmons Glacier (the largest glacier in the lower 48) and Mt. Rainier, of course.  Go further, and you can hike up to Glacier Basin, which is the trail climbers take from this side.  Click here.
  • Summerland Trail:  This is on the Top 10 lists of many hikers, and people come from all over the world to hike it.  This trail gains 2100 feet in about 4.25 miles, so you will be hiking in snow towards the top.    Click here.
  • Grove of the Patriarchs:  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!  Click here.
  • 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.  Click here.
  • Lower Eastside Trail:  This trail 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 all the way to the Ohanapecosh, or just hike a small section of it and turn around when you get tired.  Gorgeous!
  • 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 towards the top and gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier
  • Chinook Pass/Tipsoo Lake:  This is our favorite area to snowshoe in the spring, and the area past the pedestrian overpass is fun for spring sledding.  (Note that sledding is not allowed around Tipsoo Lake since it’s part of the National Park.).

For hikes from the top of Sunrise, see our Summer Mt. Rainier page.

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! 

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