In the summer of 2015, David and I traveled to the Wallowas area in the Northeastern Oregon. Due to widespread wildfires in the west that year, the town of Joseph and the surrounding areas were filled with smoke from the fires. We decided make the most of the situation by heading to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington instead.
We only had one full day left to spend in Mt Rainier National Park. So I wanted a hike that allowed us to enjoy a full view of Mt Rainier and the nearby mountains without being too strenuous. Skyline Trail seemed to fit the bill. Skyline Trail is a loop trail that starts from and ends at the park’s visitor center at Paradise. It climbs up the southern slope of Mt Rainier. There were many trails that begin near the visitor center area but all the trails were clearly marked. We did the hike clockwise.
We couldn’t have asked for a better weather. The temperature was comfortable with light breeze. The sky was mostly clear showing off the towering Mt Rainier.
Skyline Trail ascends the east side of Nisqually Glacier. From Glacier Vista viewpoint, we could see Mt Rainier and its glaciers, a canyon carved by Nisqually Glacier, the waterfalls formed by melting Wilson Glacier, and the beautiful surrounding mountains. It was an amazing sight.
Past the Panorama Point we found a lunch spot that was away from other hikers. It happened to be near where this hoary marmot lived and he made his presence known. After lunch we continued hiking down. The view was gorgeous. In fact, there wasn’t a section of the trail that didn’t have nice views.
We completed the hike in about 4 hours 15 minutes, similar to the park’s estimated average hike time of 4 hours 30 minutes. This is the hike that is best to take your time enjoying the views because they are plentiful.
Have you visited Mt Rainier National Park? What were your favorite spots or moments?
- Date hiked: August 27, 2015
- Hiking time: 4h 15m
- Distance: Approx. 5.6 mi round-trip (loop). Depending on where you find a parking spot, add up to 0.6 mi round-trip walk to the trailhead to the total distance.
- Elevation change: Approx. 1900 ft gain