One thing that isn’t in short supply at Mount Rainier National Park is beautiful hikes! And we were able to experience a fantastic day of hiking!
Our Sunday at Mount Rainier National Park was spent on a couple of hikes – one short and easy, and one long and hard. We first hiked the Trail of the Shadows, a short, flat hike right across the street from the National Park Inn. We saw old growth forest, the mineral springs that James Longmire spent his time marketing to tourists, and a few of the 100 year old structures built around the springs, now in ruins.
The springs at some points just bubble from the ground – it is fascinating to see! We also saw Elcaine Longmire’s (James Longmire’s son) cabin near the springs, built in 1888. It was neat to see how small and dark it was – I can’t imagine living in such a small, dark place all winter long!
Then we began the Rampart Ridge Trail. It begins with several switchbacks that take you up high onto a ridge – the elevation gain is about 1300’. The hiking on the switchbacks is still pretty steep at times; I definitely had to stop and rest several times on the way up. While hiking this section, which was about 1.6 miles, we were treated to beautiful and peaceful old growth forest. Once we got to the top, we were greeted with a neat bird’s eye view of the Longmire Historic District and the National Park Inn!
The hike then led us for a while along the top of the ridge. We got a fantastic view of the mountain at one point, and then began heading back down to the valley floor. We didn’t see any bears (maybe that’s a good thing, but it would have been awesome to see one at a safe distance!), but we did see deer. And we heard the alarm call of a marmot, but sadly didn’t see him. The entire hike is 4.6, 4.9, or 5.0 miles, depending on which combination of signs and park materials you believe – I’m going with 5.0! We figure with adding the Trail of the Shadow spur we were probably close to 6 miles.
Once we got back to the National Park Inn, we were more than ready for a late lunch. We both had grass fed burgers with pretzel buns on the front porch of the Inn; and we split a soda and a beer. The beef just melted in our mouths, and the buns were to die for!
We relaxed in the chairs on the front porch, enjoying the fantastic view of this amazing mountain before resigning ourselves to the long, drive home. We loved our weekend trip, and have warm memories of our first visit to Mount Rainier!
Have you hiked Trail of the Shadows or Rampart Ridge at Mount Rainier? What was your favorite part?