Mount Rainier Area
Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
RoadRoad suitable for all vehicles
To avoid driving I-5 North through Olympia and Tacoma I opted for the scenic highway route through Mount Rainier. Exiting I-5 on US12 towards Packwood, then traveling northwest on Skate Creek Road to SR 123 and through the Nisqually park entrance. The drive up to Paradise was beautiful, traveling the curvy roads through lush forests and carpets of ferns and Vanilla Leafs. Parking wasn’t an issue on this Friday afternoon, but on a busy weekend it could be, as they have signs posted with lights that blink if the lots are full, and advise that you can only drive through. Time allowed for only a short hike, so I chose Alta Vista Loop trail to stretch my legs and recharge. The trails leading from the visitors center are paved and crowded. Since there are several trail options and all the trails climb uphill quickly, the crowds thin quickly. Mount Rainier was mostly hidden in clouds, so the wildflowers were the main attraction, along with butterflies and a pair of Marmots entertaining hikers on this trail. The pictures tell the story.