With the snowpack at Paradise quickly melting, folks are going to want to head there to see the wildflowers.
But as the snow melts, it tends to run down the trails, creating a muddy track. That combined with spots where snow still covers the trails is creates a problem because some hikers opt to walk alongside the trail on the fragile vegetation.
This already is a problem at Sunrise, said Julia Pinnix, the lead ranger for that part of Mount Rainier National Park.
The area already has fields of glacier lily and pasqueflower blooms, with other flowers on the way.
Pinnix said the combination of mud and snow on the trail makes visitors choose to walk on the vegetation.
“At high elevation, plants are exceedingly fragile. It takes only a single season of careless feet to cause damage that lasts for many years,” she wrote me in an e-mail.
“In particular, Burroughs Trail at Sunrise is being extraordinarily impacted. For some reason, there has been a large amount of traffic directed at that trail the past couple of years, and people are just determined to hike it even if they can’t see it. People are trampling all over the exposed vegetation in that area and causing a great deal of damage. Our small staff, and even our dedicated volunteers, are just overwhelmed. We cannot protect this exceptionally fragile area.”
If you are traveling to either Sunrise or Paradise, please be careful where you step.