Mt. Rainier has a lifetime’s worth of adventures waiting for travelers who love the outdoors and the Pacific Northwest. The National park is crisscrossed with and endless number of trails for hikers, bikers, snowshoers and skiers to explore and countless sights to take in. But what few may realize is some of the area’s most rewarding hiking routes lie outside of the park’s boundaries.
If you are planning a trip to the area and dreaming of scenic adventures with big payoffs—regardless of the time of year—then you need to familiarize yourself with the Mt. Tahoma Trails and High Rock Trail. These wilderness routes and their associated huts are maintained 100% by volunteers and take visitors to overlooks with unparalleled views of the mountains and surrounding areas. Read on to find out which Mt. Tahoma trail you should have on your to-do list for your next trip to Mt. Rainier.
High Hut: Get ready for a quad workout on this 4-mile round trip hike. High Hut is a moderate to steep grade trail that takes you up through the wilderness to a beautiful lodge perched on a ridge that is 4,760 feet up in the clouds. Your legs may be wobbly by the time you get to the top, but the payoff is big with an incredible 360-degree view of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and St. Helens. The hut is rustic and has restrooms, water, and is perfect to warm up in on cold days.
Bruni’s Snow Bowl: At 4,250 feet this jaunt takes outdoor enthusiasts to a hut with stunning views of Mount Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St Helens. The steep trip is demanding and requires adventurers to be in decent condition for the experience. Once at a top, the hut is warm, roomy, and equipped with everything you need to recharge.
Copper Creek: If you aren’t up for hikes with serious inclines, this is the route for you. You reach Copper Creek Hut after a 5.5-mile stroll with only a gentle uphill grade through the woods along the Rainier Vista Trail. Hikers enjoy sweeping vistas of Mt. Rainier and a variety of peaks ending at Puyallup Ridge. This one is perfect for across-country ski trip as well.
High Rock: While this hike is only a 3.2 mile round trip, travelers get to see what it feels like to take Mt. Rainier in at 5685 ft. With a 1365 ft. gain, High Rock is a strenuous hike, but it takes you through beautiful forested fields and offers up plenty of opportunities to glimpse Mt. Rainier as you wind your way along the Sawtooth Ridge. Once you reach the top, you will see an old broken down hut perched on the ledge of a cliff wall. Make your way up to it and the reward includes unmatched views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood.
These hiking routes are a must for those infatuated with the majestic Mt. Rainier. The views leave their impression for years to come and chances are, they’ll keep you coming back for more time and time again.
Photos by Annette Benedetti