Mt. Rainier is famed as one of the tallest mountains in the United States, one of the most accesible, and certainly one of the most beautiful. Although I have hiked Rainier before, never has it been during wildflower season, where the landscape changes dramatically and the flowers produce all colors of the rainbow.
In a lucky year, the wildflower season peaks for only about 2 weeks, in late July and early August. It is important to try and make Rainier during that time, but if not then it’s fine, as the hikes are still great and you still may catch some flowers.
Starting in Paradise are several amazing hikes, which you can get information on a the Paradise Visitor’s Center. The best one is Skyline Trail, which you can go up and then head down Dead Horse Creek Trail, the first of which gives you amazing views and the second amazing flowers.
With Rainier coming over the horizon, the haze seemed to subside as the spectacular volcanic monster rose above us. It is a beautiful sight and we could not wait to get more. Stopping to eat lunch under a shaded tree meant time to take photos of wildflowers!
After about 2 hours, we reached Glacier Vista, the most spectacular views I have ever seen of any mountain ever. With the glaciers in sight and the crevices and gorges carving themselves into the mountain, it is a sight to behold.
We walked down to Dead Horse Creek Trail for the wildflowers. We were not disappointed.
After a 3.25 hour hike, we were very happy with how it went, and headed down the mountain, only to find a bear!
After having a great day at Rainier, we headed south, towards the wonderfully serene Gifford Pinchot National Forest, which has wonderful views of Mt. St. Helens, right off the road.
After sunset, we were 15 minutes from our destination in Hood River when our tire popped. Long story short, we were out in the dark waiting for roadside until 2:00 am!