Mt. Rainier and its surrounding national park are among the most vibrant, awe-inspiring locations in the world. Standing around 14,500 feet above sea level, the colossal stratovolcano is the largest mountain in both Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. Located 60 miles southeast of Seattle, the mountain is about a two and a half hour drive from the Tri-Cities. On clear days, the mountain is visible from more than 100 miles away, dominating the skyline of Eastern Washington’s rolling hills and shrub-steppe.
During the current global COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are practicing social distancing and reasonable self-quarantine. With temperatures on the rise every day and many of us home from work, taking a hike and going camping are appealing sounding endeavors.
Access to parts of our national parks has been closed or limited. The park backcountry is accessible for hiking and winter recreation. However, as we move into May and June, these beautiful parks are increasing access and services in a phased approach. You will need to check Mt. Rainier National Park’s website to make sure the area you wish to visit is open.
Fortunately, many of the wilderness areas and hiking trails in Washington State are still open to the public, as keeping distance from others in the wild is much easier than in cities. There are hundreds of miles of wilderness trails to explore, once the weather permits, and there is perhaps no better exercise for the body and mind than connecting with nature… especially in these stressful times.
The Wonderland Trail is a famous, 93-mile trail circumnavigating Mt. Rainier at the base. Traversing through varied alpine and sub-alpine terrain, all while gaining awesome views of the volcano, there are very few trails that can match the majesty of Wonderland Trail. While making the entire trek is a massive feat, many hikers enjoy completing parts of the trail in shorter segments and at their own pace. It is recommended that you choose a starting and ending point for your hike, and plan accordingly.
Paradise, Tolmie Peak, and Tipsoo Lake each offer staggering views of the mountain, as well as their own hiking trails and unique recreation options. Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine for your hikes here, as there are many points along the trails to stop and take a breath, relax and absorb the natural wonder surrounding you. If we must remain isolated for now, best to get out into the world and get some fresh air. Absorb some sunlight and hit the reset button for a moment. Mt. Rainier National Park is possibly the best place in Washington State for this sort of getaway, and it’s just over the horizon.