Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Tour
Assembly Point: Seattle, WA
|Tour Cost: $2,145
(includes all lodging, all meals, van shuttles between Seattle and Mt. Rainier, park entrance fees, leaders, tour maps & narratives)
Of all the mighty volcanoes of the Cascade Range, extending from southern British Columbia through northern California, none rise and dominate the horizon as does Mt. Rainier. Rising from the Cascade foothills of central Washington, Rainier easily is the tallest of the High Cascade peaks. At 14,411 feet, Rainier is almost 300 feet higher than Shasta, the only other Cascade volcano exceeding 13,000 feet. On the other hand, as impressive as it is, Rainier is only one of more than 400 volcanoes that comprise the Ring of Fire that encircles the Pacific Ocean.
The fact that Rainier rises to its lofty height virtually from sea level accounts for the incredible diversity of habitats of both vegetation and wildlife that thrive on the mountain. Temperate rain forests at lower elevations give way to lush subalpine forests, tundra, and ultimately permanent snowfields and glaciers as elevation increases. Thanks to conservationists, including John Muir, Congress enacted the necessary legislation on March 2, 1899, creating Mt. Rainier National Park, our fifth national park.
After years of cycling the slopes of Rainier, Timberline finally added this magnificent jewel to our hiking program. We’ve chosen a late-August date as the time when most, if not all of the snow, has melted from our planned trails and the mosquitoes are in full retreat.
We’ll assemble early morning of Day 1 for the Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Tour and head directly to Rainier’s western entrance at Nisqually. From the Van Trump Trailhead, we’ll hike through the forest, initially to views of Christine and spectacular Comet Falls, one of the park’s tallest at 130-feet. We’ll then climb beyond Comet to the flower-filled meadows of Van Trump Park, with its striking views of Rainier and the Tatoosh Range (6 miles). It’s then on to Paradise, where we’ll spend our first of two overnights at the historic Paradise Lodge.
Day 2, we’ll hike from our lodge along the Skyline Trail, likely the park’s most popular hike, and for good reason. A solid climb early into the hike and we’re beyond timberline where the spectacular vistas reside, and Rainier is in our face at all times. A short spur trail offers an irresistible opportunity to view Nisqually Glacier, before we begin our descent back to Paradise (6 miles).
Early morning of Day 3, we’ll leave Paradise and shuttle to Chinook Pass, just beyond the park’s eastern boundary. We’ll join the Pacific Crest Trail just east of the pass as part of a grand loop that encircles Naches Peak (6,452’). Stunning views of Rainier and many of the other dominant peaks of the eastern slope highlight our return to our trailhead (5 miles). We’ll then continue along the park’s eastern perimeter to Crystal Mountain Resort, where we’ll spend our final three overnights.
Last season’s extraordinary snowpack that left so much of the park snowbound throughout the summer challenged us to find hikeable alternatives and we elected to devote an additional day to the Sunrise area, our favorite. Berkeley Park was our choice and it is phenomenal. Consider awesome Rainier in your face for 8 miles as the backdrop for meadows offering the most riotous display of wildflowers that we have ever experienced. As you might imagine, Berkeley Park remains a permanent part of our hiking trip and that’s how we’ll spend Day 4 (8 miles).
Day 5, we’ll re-enter the park through the White River Station toward Sunrise. Our focus for this day is a section of the famed Wonderland Trail, the 90-mile epic track that encircles Rainier. We’ll hike the Fryingpan Creek section to the subalpine meadows of Summerland and beyond into the rocky alpine above to the edge of the snowfields (9 miles).
Following a final night at Crystal Mountain, we’ll drive to road’s end at Sunrise and hike beyond timberline to Frozen Lake and on to the First and Second Burroughs, trail conditions permitting. The views of Rainier throughout this hike are incredible along a trail that overlooks the entire expanse of the park’s northern section including snowclad Mt. Baker, well to the north of Rainier—all in all, a dramatic conclusion to our week-long engagement with this grand mountain (6 miles). This ends our Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Tour.
|Day 1||Van Trump Trailhead: Christine and Comet Falls -- Van Trump Park overnight at Paradise Lodge||6 miles|
|Day 2||Skyline Trail Loop; overnight at Paradise Lodge||8 miles|
|Day 3||Chinook Pass: Pacific Crest Trail – Loop around Naches Peak||6 miles|
|Day 4||Sunrise: Berkeley Park||8 miles|
|Day 5||Sunrise Area: Fryingpan Creek to Summerland Meadows||8 miles|
|Day 6||Sunrise Area:Burroughs Mountain Trail (to 1st or 2d Burrough, depending on snow conditions on the trail||6 miles|
Total Hiking Mileage - 42 miles