Nearby Hikes In The National Forest
One of the things we love most about our side of Mt. Rainier is that you're surrounded by national forest. The Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest surrounds Mt. Rainier National Park on this side, and someone just arbitrarily drew a line dividing the two. So once you're past the small town of Greenwater, you feel like you've entered this incredible forest sanctuary. It's absolutely gorgeous.
NEARBY TRAILS IN THE NATIONAL FOREST
There are so many places to explore that you could hike a different trail almost any day of the year. In the Spring, upper elevations of many hikes will still have snow, so ask when you check in for updates/suggestions. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Greenwater Lakes: One of our all-time favorites and a great hike year-round! This trail meanders across rivers to two gorgeous mountain lakes surrounded by jagged peaks. This is a good hike in all weather as you’re sheltered by trees for much of the way. The lakes are a great place for a picnic! The trail is fairly flat so it’s good for kids, and it’s about 1 ½ miles to the lower lake and another ½ mile to the upper lake. People fish in both lakes, although we’re not sure how much they catch! Update April 2017: the first bridge on this trail is damaged but passable. It is leaning so parents with small kids may not want to cross it.
Camp Sheppard to Snoquera Falls: This is an especially nice 3-mile roundtrip hike in the spring and early summer while the water is running.
Palisades Trail: Another trail that is a favorite hike of locals. It is steep but also gives you absolutely incredible cliffside views of the White River Valley and Mt. Rainier. The whole trail is 6.6 miles each way, but you can easily do a shorter section.
Deep Creek Trail to Noble Knob: This trail starts right behind Alta Crystal Resort. A steep climb through the forest to a great Mt. Rainier viewpoint about 3.5 miles up. From there, it's about another .5 mile to an intersection with the Noble Knob Trail.
Suntop Lookout: We love Suntop! We especially love to go up there with a picnic and lounge like lizards in the sun, with great 360-degree views of Mt. Rainier and all the Cascades. Most people do Suntop as a short hike from Forest Service Road 73. From the gate to the top is just 1/2 mile each way via the trail, or 1 mile each way via the road. When a volunteer is present (in summer months), the gate is open and then you actually don't have to hike at all.
Ranger Creek/Little Ranger Peak: The easiest access for these trails is from a small parking area south of Camp Sheppard. The summit of Ranger Peak (about 6 miles each way) offers some great views of Mt. Rainier and surrounding peaks in the White River Valley.
Skookum Flats: This is a popular trail wth mountain bikers, but hikers seem to enjoy it as well. In the spring, you can hike to some views of Skookum Falls, but it's pleasant even if you just stroll along the White River.
Rainier View Trail and Noble Knob Trails: These trails offer incredible views of Mt. Rainier and are a great place for huckleberries in the Fall. If the Corral Pass road is open, access is via a steep 6-mile rough gravel road. There is also a great back way to this trail via Forest Service Road 72. (Ask when you check in for details.) The roads accessing these trails usually open late May or June.l
Sheep Lake: The access for this trail is from Chinook Pass, which typically opens Memorial Day weekend. Drive just east past the pedestrian overpass and park in the lot on the left (with the restrooms). At the end of the lot, you'll see a small sign that says PCT (for Pacific Crest Trail) and this is the start of the trail. Sheep Lake is about 2.2 miles and a fun spot for a dip on a hot day. You can actually continue on to Bear Gap and even over to Crystal Mountain. Ask us for a map in the office when you check in.
Dewey Lakes: More fun lakes for those long summer days. The trail access is via the Naches Peak Loop from Chinook Pass. (Chinook Pass typically opens Memorial Day weekend.) Park just east of the pedestrian overpass and go east on the trail. About a mile in, you'll reach an intersection with the Dewey Lakes Trail and just follow the signs. About 2 miles each way from the parking lot.
And there are many more trails to explore: The U.S. Forest Service sells a great book with trails in this area, and you can get it from the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie Ranger District office in Enumclaw or North Bend. The Silver Creek Visitor Center (open from mid-June through mid- September) also usually has copies for sale. Call 360-825-6585 for more information.