Cold Mountain
March 4, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Are there any reasonable hikes on Mount Rainier this time of year? And if not, what's the next best option?

I'm (sort of) new to Seattle and a pretty novice-y hiker. I got here in the fall and I've done a lot of the easier hikes -- Little Si, West Tiger #3, Heather Lake, etc. I'm really jonesing to get out to Carbon Glacier on Rainier or somewhere with similarly stunning sights, but research makes it sound really daunting in March and I've yet to find a decent list of accessible trails.

Any tips? I'm pretty wimpy but I can hike, say, eight-nine miles and gain a couple thousand feet without collapsing or anything. I can snowshoe but... I'd rather not. I'd also prefer not to get up at 5 AM.
posted by zvs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (previously, but not winter-relevant)
posted by zvs at 3:09 PM on March 4, 2010

Best answer: Everything near Rainier involving elevation is going to be covered in snow right now. You don't necessarily need snow shoes, but tennis shoes won't suffice. I'm talking full- or 3/4-shank mountaineering boots and an ice axe.

If you've got that kind of equipment and know how to use it, then I'd highly recommend the Tattoosh range in MRNP (Pinnacle Peak, Unicorn peak, The Castle, Eagle peak). Fantastic views of rainier, and you can hit two or three peaks in a day if you move fast.

You would need to wake up at 5:00am, though. It takes a few hours to get to the park, and higher elevation roads will be snowed in so you have to hike a ways in.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:43 PM on March 4, 2010

Best answer: If you haven't run across this website yet, check it out: Washington Trails Association. It's not nearly as good as it used to be, but it's still a good resource, and if you're lucky you'll find a trail that interests you and has a recent trip report so you'll know what you're getting into.

Later in the season when it warms up a little, I highly recommend the Tolmie Peak trail. It's near Mt. Rainier and easily ranks in my top 5 hikes for stunning views. It's a difficult but not too brutal, slow and steady uphill slog through the forest, with no view to speak of, then you crest a ridge and come to Eunice Lake. You might be tempted to call it a day and turn around at that point, but don't. It looks like a hellish trek from the lake to the lookout, but if you're like me you'll keep trudging along, stop to catch your breath, and then your jaw will drop when you turn around and see this.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:20 PM on March 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks. I'm waiting until May then.
posted by zvs at 12:33 PM on March 12, 2010

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