Mt. Rainier is closer than it appears. If we leave early and not dilly dally, we can make it from Seattle to Paradise in a little over two hours. If we wait, we have a chance of running into traffic and our two hour drive can easily turn into a three, or a four hour one.
Want to get up close to The Mountain? You can either go to Paradise, or Sunrise. Both areas have excellent visitor centers, places to eat and Paradise has a hotel. From Paradise you get the view of the mountain from the south, and from Sunrise the north. Since Seattle is north of Mt. Rainier, it would seem that getting to Sunrise would be quicker, but it really isn’t. The way the roads go, it’s about the same amount of time to get to either one of the overlooks.
I don’t know if I have a favorite side. Paradise has the Paradise Inn, which is a really swanky historic hotel. I’ve never stayed here, but it must be nice to wake up to the view of the mountain right outside your window. On the other hand, it seems that Sunrise has more hikes to choose from.
On this day we chose to go to Paradise. The weather was flawless and it was the weekend, which means that the parking lot at Paradise filled up fast. We had a sizable group, but somehow were able to stay away from the crowds. At least for a little while.
Some of us did two hikes that day, but this first hike was more of a short little loop. There are several short hikes that you can do from Paradise. Many are steep and very crowded, but the Nisqually Vista Trail is off to the side. It’s fairly flat and not overrun with crowds. This was the first little hike that we did that day.
Right from the start the Nisqually Vista trail drops down a hundred feet or so. Then it levels out. It’s about a mile loop (we got a little more distance in, because we backtracked at one point and then decided to go another way) through the meadows and a forest, with some spectacular views of Mt. Rainier (and more specifically, the Nisqually Glacier) on the way.
National Parks have a museum quality to them. They’re abundant in incredible natural beauty and Mt. Rainier is one of my favorite National Parks. Of course, I’m biased, because I see Mt. Rainier often from the city and I do think it’s an exceptionally beautiful mountain. I love getting close to it, but what I don’t love is how restricted the movement here it. For good reason, of course! But… You have to stay on the trail at all times (no going peeing behind the bushes), many paths are paved (agh!) and no, you can’t pick the flowers. I wonder about the abundance of blueberries (not ripe enough to eat yet). No eating those either? 😦
Usually, I see tons of wildlife at the park. Last time I was here I saw a bear! But this time…? Even the marmots were in hiding. Maybe it was the heat or maybe the crowds. Or maybe a combination of both? Anyways, here is a picture of a caterpillar as a consolation prize. I love his cute little legs!
1.4 miles, 168 ft of elevation
YTD Hiking Miles: 62.2