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Fantastic Mount Rainier Hiking:
Some Hiking Joy!
by Diane Spicer
Mount Rainier hiking should be on your hiking bucket list.
- 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 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 in the fall is beyond gorgeous. And no biting insects!
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 region you pick.
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 off paved pathways so 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
The Sunrise entrance
brings you to a more subdued visitor center, but mind blowingly
gorgeous trails that get you up close and personal to some of Rainier's
- 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 hike is something a bit different; full description here
Lodging within the park
Either entrance gives you campground options.
the Longmire entrance provides "room and board" options:
Inn, at the base of the mountain
- Paradise Lodge, at the top of the
drive up the mountain's flank
Mount Rainier tip
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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
- 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.
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.
“Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” John Muir
7. If you're going to head 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!
For complete 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
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