Sunday, September 09, 2012

Hiking on Mt. Rainier's Burroughs Mountain Trail

Enjoying the view at Second Burroughs Mountain

Mt. Rainier is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a trip to Seattle. Just as Tokyo's very identity rests on Mt. Fuji, Mt. Rainier is part of Seattle. It is not always visible from the city, but is always there in the minds of people who live here. People here in Seattle refer to Mt. Rainier simply as "The Mountain" and the sight of the mountain when it does decide to show itself never gets old.

If you want to visit Mt. Rainier, there are two sides that are usually visited: Paradise and Sunrise. Paradise is the side that you will see if you decide to take a tour to the mountain and it is beautiful in itself, but I prefer Sunrise for the quieter trails and stark tundra landscape. The other day I took a trip to Sunrise to show the mountain off to a friend who is visiting from out of town, and these are the photos from the hike.

Almost to Sunrise

Mt. Rainier

After the break, more photos from the hike up the Burroughs Mountain Trail, past Frozen Lake. Plus, we'll have information on how to get here and what to expect.

Frozen Lake in Mt. Rainier National Park

On the way up the First Burroughs Mountain

The view from the top of First Burroughs Mountain

The view from the top of First Burroughs Mountain with the Second Burroughs Mountain to the right

The unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier from the Second Burroughs Mountain

The lodge at Sunrise

If you want to visit Sunrise, the best and really only feasible way is by car. The trip to Paradise and Sunrise are just about the same, although my experience has usually been that the drive to Paradise is not as nice and that there is a stretch in the middle that can be heavily congested. To get to Sunrise:

  1. Take I-5 South to WA-18 Eastbound (about 22 miles)
  2. Head east on WA-18 to WA-164 headed to Enumclaw. Ignore the sign telling you to take a different exit for Mt. Rainier.
  3. Turn left onto WA-164 and follow the road until you reach WA-410 in Enumclaw. There is a Safeway here where you can buy water and snack for your hike, as well as top off your tank at a reasonable price.
  4. Turn left onto WA-410 and follow the road until you reach the Sunrise entrance. You will cross into the Mt. Rainier National Park a couple miles before this turn off. 
  5. Follow the road to the ranger station where you will have to pay the entrance fee to the park ($15, good for seven days), then follow the road to the end. Be careful. There are many sharp turns and hairpin turns on the way up. 
Once you are there, you are looking for the Frozen Lake trail, which will head first up the hill to the right of the parking lot and then towards the mountain. There are not too many trails and as long as you keep heading up and towards the mountain, it should be fairly obvious. The National Park Service has a map of the trail here. One important must-do is to check trail conditions before you leave for Mt. Rainier. Even into the Summer months, the road to Sunrise can be completely closed due to snow and trails may have partial snow cover. 

The trail to the best views of the Mountain at the Second Burroughs Mountain is a good hike, but doable for anyone in reasonable shape. Take your time and you will be able to make it. The first steep incline is just getting to the trail, but then it is flat until you reach frozen lake. From there, off towards the mountain there is the First Burroughs Mountain. The path is straight forward there are plenty of rocks to stop and catch your breath when needed. Once you get to the top of the first, you are most of the way to the Second Burroughs Mountain, which is where the best views are. It's worth the extra effort and the hike on the way back is virtually effortless. Round trip, it's about three to four hours with plenty of breaks.

Coming up soon here on the blog will be pictures from South America, as I head to Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguazu, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires! I will be on my way next Thursday with photos as soon as I can get them up.

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