E-book authors name their favorite day-hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.
Authors’ 5 favorites
At 69, hiking author Mickey Eisenberg still treks eight to 10 miles on weekends, often with his buddy Gene Yore, a young 76.
Their knees aren’t that creaky, and they still can tread some serious miles, so why not, Eisenberg said.
They wrote an e-book, “Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park” (Mountaineers Books, 2015, $14.95; smartphone version $7.95) with all proceeds going to The Mountaineers club.
“When people think of Mount Rainier National Park, they typically think of Mount Rainier itself,” said Eisenberg, a physician. Most don’t realize that in addition to “The Big One,” there are 100 peaks located in or adjacent to the park, often with fewer visitors, and many with summits reachable by hiking trails requiring no specialized mountaineering equipment.
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Here, the authors have chosen their five favorite summer day-hikes in the park. The best time to go is mid-July to mid-September, Eisenberg said. Comments on each selection are by Eisenberg.
Second Burroughs Mountain, 5.5 miles round trip, 1,400-foot elevation gain; Easy
It’s a hike that beginners and teens can manage. The trail, which goes partly along a ridge, is well maintained and popular on summer weekends. You’re hiking above the tree line with spectacular views of Mount Rainier and Little Tahoma.
Directions: From the park’s Sunrise Visitor Center parking area, the trailhead is to the right of the restrooms. Begin uphill on the asphalt trail leading to Sourdough Ridge. Follow trail signs to First Burroughs and then continue to Second Burroughs.
Skyscraper Peak, 7.5 miles round trip, 2,100-foot elevation gain; Easy to moderate
This hike takes about five hours but you won’t be bored. The trail enters a basin, where you see the aptly named Skyscraper Peak looming above. The hike is above the tree line throughout. From the top of Skyscraper the views are stupendous in all directions. Flowers are usually abundant in late July to early September (editor’s note: Wildflowers are blooming early in summer 2015).
Directions: From Sunrise Visitor Center, follow the trail to Sourdough Ridge and keep left to Frozen Lake, then hike on the Wonderland Trail toward Skyscraper. Upon reaching the saddle just south of Skyscraper, turn right and follow an easy footpath to the summit.
Crystal Peak,7.5 miles round trip, 3,000-foot elevation gain; Moderate
This trail, east of Mount Rainier, leads to an old lookout site.
From the top looking west there’s a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and many of the surrounding sub-peaks. In late September, if you make it to the last mile, you’re rewarded with huckleberries along the trail. There’s usually considerable snow on the higher slopes in early summer, making it better to hike Crystal Peak in late July through September (but expect less snow in 2015).
Directions: Drive Highway 410 for about 4 miles south of the Crystal Mountain ski area turnoff, to the Crystal Lakes trailhead on the east side of the highway. Park on either side of the road (park fee not required). The trail branches at 4,600 feet, with the left branch going to Crystal Lakes and the right branch heading south to Crystal Peak. Head south across the west slope of Crystal Peak. At about 5,800 feet, the trail does a 140 degree turn to the old lookout site on the peak.
Shriner Peak,6 miles round trip, 3,400-foot elevation gain; Moderate to difficult
This hikes leads to a lookout, one of four in the park. You’re shaded under old-growth forest until the last third of the hike when the scenery transitions to alpine vistas and grand views of Mount Rainier. Large noble firs are found just off the trail on the upper slopes. In August and early September huckleberries abound. In early summer the trail may be obscured by snow, so late July through September is better.
Directions: Drive Highway 410 south to Cayuse Pass and continue south on Highway 123. Approximately 7.5 miles past Cayuse Pass, park on the west side of the highway (park fee not required). The trailhead is marked with a large sign on the east side of the road.
Tatoosh Trail,10.5 miles round trip, 4,000-foot elevation gain; Difficult
This hike is the most strenuous of the five but also our favorite. Look for the sign “Tatoosh Trail 161.” The first third of the hike goes through many switchbacks under a canopy of old growth. Then things open up with views of ridges and the spiky Tatoosh Range, south of Mount Rainier. At 5,500 feet a spur to the left leads to Tatoosh Lakes. But continue straight. Stay on the trail, crossing several ridges and traversing around two basins before reaching the summit ridge at 5,750 feet.
Directions: Drive on Highway 706 toward the park’s Nisqually Entrance. Approximately 3.5 miles past Ashford turn right on Forest Service Road 52, signed Kernahan Road, which in 1.4 miles curves left to become Skate Creek Road. Travel about 19 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 5270, reaching the trailhead in about 7 miles.