Mt. Rainier – Alta Vista

Hiked On: July 24, 2005
Weather Conditions: Approximately 70°F, partly-clear skies
Elevation: 5480-5950' at Paradise, 6400' at Sunrise
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Mt. Rainier National Park

When it's sunny in Seattle in the summertime, you head to Mt. Rainier. We had a new batch of folks start at work this week, and some of them aren't from western Washington, so I invited them to Rainier for a day of easy hiking. One of them actually took me up on the offer, while the others carried on with apartment hunting, etc. We decided to take a quick jaunt down to Paradise and hit up the Alta Vista trail. The hike is detailed in the book Day Hike! Mount Rainier , ISBN 1570613141). We started at the Paradise Visitor's center, at 5480'. We hiked up the (really steep!) Alta Vista trail to the Alta Vista summit where we had a really good view of Rainier and Mt. Adams to the south.

We hiked down the backside of Alta Vista trail and intersected with a portion of the Skyline Loop that we hadn't hit yet. The flowers were still out, but we could tell that they are already fading this year – far fewer wildflowers out this week than there were when we hiked last week.

On the way down, we were able to spot a little bit of wildlife – two fawns (I think they were mule deer) munching on wildflowers. Nice to see. Total distance hiked: 1.6 miles, total elevation gain: 670'.

After having a quick lunch, we hopped in the car and drove around to the Grove of the Patriarchs, an easy 1 mile loop (at 2200' elevation) into an old growth forest, where we were met by huge Western Red Cedars that were easily 20' in diameter. According to the signage on the trail, some of these trees were over 1,000 years old. If trees could talk, they would make good history teachers.

Our last journey took us around to the other side of the park to Sunrise, where we mostly enjoyed the view from 6,400' at the parking lot and visitor center.