Summerland Trail on August 9th—flowers, views, marmots and more!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen Summerland looking more beautiful!  This is a fabulous hike for anyone looking for flower-filled meadows, incredible views and marmots practicing their boxing skills. 

We started out early on Friday morning, August 12th.  The dense old-growth forest gave way in about 2 miles to a narrow canyon on Fryingpan Creek, the perfect photo opportunity.  We started to see some peak-a-boo views of Mt. Rainier as the terrain transitioned from old-growth to subalpine at around 3 miles.  At about 4 miles, we reached the beginning of the meadows of Summerland—with flowers that were thigh-high in places and marmots playing everywhere!  We stopped to rest at a backcountry cabin at about 4.2 miles and thought about going further (up to Panhandle Gap and true alpine terrain), but we were having too much fun taking pictures of flowers and marmots—and quite honestly, couldn’t imagine any place in the world that could be better!

Take a look at these photos and come up now while the flowers are at their peak.  The trail is snow-free (except for a few patches at the very top) and, unfortunately, it’s hard to show just how vibrant the colors are in photos (i.e. you really need to see for yourself). Go early in the day, and hopefully the marmots will put on a show.

The total trail is 8.6 miles roundtrip, with a total elevation gain of 1950’ and a top elevation of around 5900’.  You’ll find the trailhead about 4 miles from the Sunrise turnoff from Highway 410, near Fryingpan Creek.  This can be one of the most popular trails in the Park, so spend the night before at our place  [smile]  and hit the trail early if you’re coming on a weekend simply because there’s limited parking.  (Most people who come to the Park don’t hike this far, so the trail itself doesn’t feel crowded.) 

Actually, the area all around Sunrise is perfect for hiking right now, and the wildflowers are at their peak (even thought it’s the middle of August).  The flowers at Tipsoo Lake should be out in the next couple of weeks, meaning an incredible Labor Day show.

Hope to see you soon!