Independence Pass (South Segment) Professional Review and Guide
"Originally the first 0.2 mile of this trail was a true sand ladder — a series of wooden rungs held together with cables which allow easier climbing and descending over steep, loose soil. Now 8 rock and 428 wooden steps replace the old sand ladder. Climb the steps and then bear left to the viewpoint at 4,230 feet elevation on the pumice-covered slope. Take some time here to admire nature’s violent handiwork.
Look into the crater and see what was once the inside of a mountain. Spirit Lake, with its thousands of floating logs, is below. To the west Johnston Ridge Observatory sits perched atop Johnston Ridge. Further along the trail, Mount Margaret and Mount Rainier come into view, while penstemon dots the landscape between the downed logs. These flowers bloom through July. As you get farther along into a slightly more protected area, paintbrush, fireweed, elderberries and huckleberries join the penstemon."