MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

I was originally more excited about N. Cascades NP than Mt. Rainier, but after going to both twice, I would choose Mt. Rainier if I had to pick between the two. Paradise alone is one of the most incredible hikes we've done, surrounding us with views throughout the entire hike. 

We reserved a spot at Cougar Rock campground for Friday and Saturday nights beginning on July 7, 2018. We took off after work and arrived around 8pm, after stopping at the Base Camp Grill in Ashford, just outside the entrance to the Park. Other than that, we hung out at the campground for a bit before heading to bed in preparation of our big day for Saturday.

DAY 1 SATURDAY 07.07.2018 

One of the best things about camping, is waking up and having coffee while relaxing at the campsite. Then once we are ready, we get the breakfast going. Here is what we had planned for the rest of the day...

Christine Falls

Ricksecker Point Road

Narada Falls

Ruby Falls

Inspiration Point (lookout)

Reflection Lake

Bench Lake/Snow Lake Hike

Grove of the Patriarchs Hike

Silver Falls Hike

Christine Falls: This waterfall is very easy to access right from the main road. If you're coming from the same campground, head just past the bridge and there is a small parking area for the viewing point. There is an even smaller pull-off before the bridge but the better viewing point is probably a .1 mile RT walk from the pull-off just past the bridge. The photos below are what you will see..

Ricksecker Point Road: It's not super special...I mean considering there are views everywhere. It's a one-way loop and unless you're really pressed for time, it doesn't hurt to take the road! It's about a mile long and it reconnects with the main road. There are a few pull-offs along the way including Ricksecker Point.   [Ricksecker Point: 46.769813, -121.781047]

Narada Falls: This is an easy access waterfall with a large parking area (and bathrooms at the trailhead!). It's only .25mi RT. The trail to the waterfall is fairly steep so keep that in mind. If you are unable to make it down, you can look down on the top part of the waterfall from the parking area  [Parking Area: 46.775148, -121.746929]

Ruby Falls: I'm not sure if we found it. When you google image search "Ruby Falls," there are some pretty cool images and we definitely didn't find that. Where google maps lists Ruby Falls, there is no signage. We did, however, find a stream and there are some nice little river pools you can take a dip in and some smaller waterfalls. I'd call it a cool hangout spot. Maybe we didn't search far enough?  If you know more about Ruby Falls, feel free to reach out to me!

Inspiration Point: This is definitely worth a stop for the views. You'll get an impressive view of the valley as well as an impressive view on the mountain! I actually appreciated the view of the valley more (maybe because Paradise is where it's at for staring at the big mountain). [Inspiration Point: 46.773394, -121.744173]

Reflection Lake: Definitely one of the most scenic (and easy access) places in the entire park. *[PRO TIP - when the wind is blowing, the water will not be still and you will not see the reflection through the entire lake. It might be best to come early in the morning]. And we didn't follow that tip, so we did not see the reflection throughout the lake. A beautiful scenic spot nonetheless. [Reflection Lake: 46.768211, -121.728452]

Bench Lake / Snow Lake Hike: We really enjoyed this hike. We just missed out on seeing bears as well in the valley just past the first lake. It's a mild and steady climb, ascending about 610 feet and 2.5mi RT. The trailhead is very easy to find. There is a sign and it is right off the main road but the coordinates are [46.767691, -121.708071]. The parking area is fairly small but there are pull-offs on the road not too far down if you can't get a spot. The views are wonderful and the trail is very enjoyable as well. A definite recommendation.

Grove of the Patriarchs: This is a short and fairly easy hike that will take you 1.5 miles RT to a short loop through the giant trees. The beginning of the trail descends a bit through a forest with a river to your right til you get to the bridge. To me, the bridge was the most unique part of the hike (because we have seen many Redwoods and forests with very large trees already). Once you cross the bridge, you will begin to see the "Patriarchs." Definitely a great hike overall.  Parking area coordinates = [46.758173, -121.557601]

Grove of the Patriarchs: This is a short and fairly easy hike that will take you 1.5 miles RT to a short loop through the giant trees. The beginning of the trail descends a bit through a forest with a river to your right til you get to the bridge. To me, the bridge was the most unique part of the hike (because we have seen many Redwoods and forests with very large trees already). Once you cross the bridge, you will begin to see the "Patriarchs." Definitely a great hike overall.  Parking area coordinates = [46.758173, -121.557601]

Silver Falls Hike: You can make this hike shorter or a little longer. You can start from the Grove of the Patriarchs trailhead and cross the street, following the Eastside Trail for about .5 mi one way to the falls. If you want a little longer of a hike, you can park at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center for a 3 mi RT loop trail. If you're trying to pack in everything we did in this day, I'd recommend the shorter version. In my opinion, the falls were by far the most special part of the trail and with such a busy day, a 1 mi RT hike would be enough! Either way, you will enjoy your way to the beautiful area where these falls are located.

DAY 2 SUNDAY 07.08.2018 

Paradise. That was the plan for day 2. To go to Paradise. And no, I'm not just calling it that. That's what it's called. And when you see it, you will understand why. Here's what we had planned for Sunday...

Nisqually Vista Trail - 2.2mi RT loop
Skyline Trail - 5.5mi RT, 1700’ elev gain
Myrtile Falls - .8mi RT

Nisqually Vista Trail -  This is an easy, 1.2mi RT paved loop trail that provides beautiful landscapes and excellent views of Mt. Rainier and the valley. We did this as a warm-up hike before hiking the Paradise Loop. Even in early July, about 1/3 of the trail was covered in snow. The best part of the trail is the halfway point, which offers the views! Trail begins at the lot just before the Paradise Visitor's Center [46.784833, -121.741631].

Paradise Trail -  This trail can be accessed from the Nisqually Vista Trailhead, however, we drove over to the Paradise Visitor's Center parking area to save a couple miles of hiking. We got lucky with weather - it was a perfect day. This trail is a loop so once you get to panoramic point, the ascend is over. The hike offers incredible views of Mt. Rainier, wildflowers, waterfalls, rivers, mountain goats (if you're lucky), marmots, and more! *TIP: The loop starts from the left or right. We have done both. I would recommend starting from the left as I thought it provided slightly better views of Mt. Rainier (you'll be fine either way). The hike also includes the stunning view of Myrtile Falls (which I'll include a description of below).

Myrtile Falls - This is part of the Paradise trail but if you are not physically able to do the Paradise trail or if you don't have the time, these waterfalls are very easily accessible. A .4mi one-way walk on a paved path will get you one of the most scenic views in the entire park. If you did the Paradise trail and started to the left, you will get this view on your way back (.4mi from the end of your hike).

Thank you so much for checking out the post! Please reach out to me if you have any questions or comments at traveltrachs@gmail.com or on Instagram @traveltrachs.

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We are both traveling physical therapists. Traveling since September 2016. And we have a camper van.

 

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