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Fantastic Mount Rainier Hiking:
How To Grab Yourself
Some Hiking Joy!
By Diane Spicer
Mount Rainier hiking should be on your hiking bucket list, because
it's some of the best hiking near Seattle, Washington in the Pacific
Jump to these specific hikes:
Here's why hiking at Mount Rainier is a never-to-be forgotten experience:
- Mt. Rainier hikes offer a diversity of landscapes that you aren't going to find anywhere else in North America.
- Mt. Rainier National Park provides paved access to some stunning trailheads. And if you want to work a little harder, you can drive on good gravel roads to some "hidden gems" trailheads.
- Day hikes can be done easily from nearby campgrounds and cabins.
- Backpacking trips are arranged easily, but require permits in advance so you must plan ahead.
- Hiking Mt. Rainier puts you firmly in the elite category of volcano hikers!
- Where else are you going to see this?? It's fantastic!
Mount Rainier hiking is beyond gorgeous.
Mount Rainier hiking: pick your spot
There are multiple approaches to getting great views of this splendid volcano and its surrounding terrain.
In fact, Mt. Rainier National Park is broken into segments, and the hiking varies with the entrance you use.
The Longmire entrance puts you on the road to Paradise (no, really!).
There you will find:
- a seasonally operated lodge (rooms, dining room, gift shop, snack shop) and visitor center
- access to spectacular flower fields from paved pathways, easily accessible to all
- trailheads galore to rock, snow, ice, lakes and viewpoints
Longmire headquarters, Mt. Rainier National Park
Here's an example of a great day hike at Mount Rainier
If waterfalls are your thing, don't pass up your chance to do a short 4 mile (round trip) day hike to Comet Falls.
- Trail description and video here
Another easy option to trailheads: Sunrise
The Sunrise entrance
brings you to a more subdued visitor center, but gorgeous trails that bring you up close and personal to some of Rainier's
This area has a fantastic view of "the mountain", and is less busy than Paradise.
Here are some hikes you really should try:
- Glacier Basin offers you a day spent along the White River; check it out here.
- The Burroughs Mountain trails (First, Second, Third) are highly recommended. Description, photos and video here
- Summerland is also a worthy destination, so view the description and video here
- Owyhigh Lakes offer something a bit different; full description here
Lodging within the park
Either entrance gives you campground options.
NOTE: Mount Rainier National Park accepts only electronic card payments for entrance fees and campgrounds (no cash).
You'll have to book ahead of time for some campgrounds, or take your chances at snagging a camping spot with a first come, first served operating policy.
the Longmire entrance provides "room and board" options:
Inn, at the base of the mountain, a quaint and cosy spot
- Paradise Lodge, at the top of the
drive up the mountain's flank, offering a beautiful setting and full service dining room
Best Mount Rainier tips from a local
Trying to drive all the way around the mountain in a day is a great way to miss what Mt. Rainier is all about.
Don't cheat yourself.
- Budget several days, at the bare minimum, to soak up all the splendor.
Your best weather window will be late July through early September.
Wildflowers bloom depending upon snow melt. Snow can linger into August in some years!
Hiking options to choose from
at Mount Rainier National Park
Your Mt. Rainier hiking options include:
- One fantastic day hike while staying overnight at a lodge or campground in the park.
- Serial day hikes, from the comfort of your base camp in a campground or a cabin outside the park boundaries.
- Multiday backpacking trip using the Wonderland Trail or various loops.
To get you started, here are 3 of my favorite Mount Rainier day hikes, and all the reasons why you should do them.
- Click the photo for details!
A few Mount Rainier hiking secrets
Because I'm a "local", I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to hiking near, and on the flanks of, Mt. Rainier.
I'm ready to share a few with you right here!
1. Don't be intimidated by the crowds at Paradise and Sunrise.
- Once you get half a mile away from the visitor centers, you're on your way toward peace and quiet.
- There is talk about a metered entrance system in the future, and/or a shuttle bus to eliminate the parking problems. Be sure you check the status of these before you go.
2. Remember that you're hiking on an active volcano!
- Sudden snow melts and glacial outbursts are possible, so head for high ground if you hear or see anything unusual.
3. Avoid these "hot spots" unless you like company:
- Muir snowfield (climbers, late season snowboarders and dayhikers all get on the ant trail up the mountain).
- Any short loop hike near a campground, such as Grove of the Patriarchs.
4. Bears are sighted frequently, and in my recent experiences, bears are becoming more numerous but are not aggressive.
- They mind their own business, as you should. No feeding or interacting with them, please.
5. Weather changes fast on Mt. Rainier hiking trails, and it's your responsibility to be prepared for snow, sleet, hail, lightning, extreme temperatures, sideways rain, and unrelenting hot sun.
- The conventional hiking wisdom of bringing layers definitely applies to Mount Rainier hiking, regardless of the date on the calendar.
6. You need trail head permits for backpacking, including assigned camp sites each night available via lottery.
7. If you're going to Mount Rainier, bring your own food if you don't want to pay the high prices at the snack shops and lodges.
Lots more hiking tips for dayhikers are to be found right here!
“Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” John Muir
For my trail descriptions, photos and videos of the best day hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, check these out:
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Mount Rainier Hiking Tips