Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park
by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer (The Mountaineers Books)
© Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
On a nice day, the Naches Peak loop is one of the best hikes around. The views are fabulous, and the wildflowers are still pretty good due to the wet summer. Some blueberries too. Trail not too dusty. We on a weekday afternoon and there were plenty of people, so weekends might be very crowded. Park at Chinook pass with NW forest pass, or at Tipsoo lake without one. From Tipsoo lake parking area, walk toward the lake, then take the trail to the left, up the hill through the woods. This brings you to the wooden bridge over the highway at the pass. do the loop in a clockwise fashion for best views of Mt. Rainier.
For this year, at least, with the amount of snow the Pass got this year, mid-July was a bit early for this trail. Not that it was impossible or anything... there was just a considerable amount of snow along the trail, which made it difficult, and a bit hairy at times, when walking over streams that were undercutting the snow you were on, and you weren't sure how thin the snow was, and if it was going to hold you. The snowmelt made for some amazing falls along the trail The views, especially at the high point just before the PCT junction, were AMAZING, and the snow made them even that much more so. We parked by Tipsoo Lake, then walked up to the bridge at the pass, and took the loop that way, ending up back by Tipsoo. There's a gentle slope upwards heading out, and it slopes down back to the Lake, which is nice, but the REAL reason to do that is that you're walking toward Mt Rainier, and can enjoy the INCREDIBLE view of the mountain that way... The alpine lakes that you see along the way are incredible. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a fun walk to watch the sunset, especially after the snow melts away, when it'd be great for kids, or folks not in the greatest of shape (like me).
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