Sunrise (or sunset) offer a time of introspection. In Moran State Park, find this time to mull over life atop Sunrise Rock. This perfect start or end to the day will get your legs pumping and blood flowing on this short, steep hike. The network of trails around Cascade Lake offer the potential to extend your hike towards Cascade Falls and around the lake itself, but the hike to Sunrise Rock offers enough of a workout to satisfy many.
The trail begins from the end of the campground road, but limited trailhead parking means that you need to start at the day-use lot. Walk the road 0.3 miles (0.5 km) to the trailhead, located near a restroom building and enter into the dense forest.
At 0.1 miles, reach a junction where you will bear left, following big, clear signs around the park. Turning right will lead you around Cascade Lake (combine the two hikes if camping at the lake and in search of a lengthy jaunt). In 0.3more miles, reach another junction where you’ll head right instead (left leads to Cascade Falls).
At this point, you may be wondering where the elevation gain on this trail is. Don't worry, it's coming. After reaching a low drainage spot, climb steeply for roughly .25 miles to the top. A couple of switchbacks help to alleviate the steepness of the climb, but your thighs, calves, and heart will notice the increased effort. Several rock outcrops along the trail break up the dense forest of cedars and fires as you continue to ascend.
Thankfully, this hard effort comes to an end shortly as you reach the top. From the outlook, views down to Cascade Lake, as well as east, west, and north will keep you entertained as you wait for sunset or sunrise. You’ll also find a memorial tablet for a former WSYCC member with the phrase “You’re here. You’re alive. Be happy.” Take this phrase to heart and remember how great it is to be able to experience such great scenery and enjoy these public lands.
After taking in the views, head back to your car or campsite and enjoy a hearty breakfast (or nightcap, depending on when you hiked).