Review of Hiking Mt. Rainier's Skyline Trail August 27 2014
On August 18th, we hiked Mt. Rainier's Skyline Trail. Waking up at dawn to feel the warm glow of summer on your cheeks has to be one of the best feelings in the world. We stumbled out of Seattle at about 6:30am and cruised down I-5 for a few hours. Upon reaching the Mt. Rainier National Park, we paid for entrance ($15 for a day pass), and made our way to Paradise.
The resort and hotel are simply spectacular. While we didn't stay overnight, I would highly recommend booking a room for a few days so that you can check out all of the beautiful hikes in the area. One of the biggest challenges was actually selecting which hike we wanted to go on.
After reading hundreds of reviews, we decided to do Mt. Rainier's Skyline Trail which promises spectacular views, glorious wild flowers, mounds of snow, and an aerobic exercise that will get your heart pumping. We ended up having two take two trails to get to the start of Skyline Trail because the direct route was under construction. Most online sources note that the trail is about 6 miles round trip.
We started off our hike with two water bottles, a chocolate bar, sandwiches, and a small daypack to carry a first-aide kit and wind breakers. Most hikers recommend going around the loop clockwise. I would highly suggest this route as well. On our way up, we wandered though fields of wild flowers that smelled amazing. Within minutes we were both joking that we needed to produce a perfume that captured the Pacific NW wild flower scent. In August, the Lupine and Indian Paint brush are in full blossom. Some of the other flowers were a bit past their prime, but you will not be disappointed. We also spotted Eagles and a very relaxed looking Marmot.
When going clockwise, the path is very well maintained. The steep portions are punctuated with steps, so the hike is a bit less tough. Portions of the trail were wet due to snow melt, so be cautioned that it can get a bit slippery. The first vantage point is the Panoramic view spot. At this segment of the trail you can choose to either do the high skyline or continue along the main Skyline trail. We opted to hike up to a second look-out and snap a few photos before heading down the main Skyline trail. I must note that we selected this route because we love snow. The other route is probably safer and offers more expansive views, but we just couldn't help ourselves when we saw a giant snow field. We sloshed our way through the snow, which is pretty slippery in August, until we were on dry land again. The path meanders through wild flower fields, mossy tundras, and the alpine trees. After hiking a few miles on flat ground, there were two options 1) head directly back down to Paradise or 2) continue on a second part of the loop to Paradise. We opted for #2 and did a bit of trail running.
It's hot on the mountain. We were both scorched by the time we got back to the car, even with sunscreen. I would highly suggest bringing extra water and sunscreen. At the very end of the hike, we ran into a section of the trail that is filled with tourists. There is a waterfall and a few bridges, but it was packed. We decided to run through the crowds so that we could skip the traffic.
Overall, we hiked about 8 miles. It took us about 2.5 hours, and it was an incredible adventure! I would highly recommend the Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier.
Have a safe and exciting hike!