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5 Fall Hikes at Mount Rainier

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on Oct. 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm |
October 12, 2010 10:11 pm

Taking a hike at Mount Rainier National Park this time of year is a good way to immerse yourself in fall colors. There are numerous options, but we decided to narrow it down a bit. We asked longtime park ranger Kevin Bacher to recommend five hikes. For more information on these and other hikes visit


Miles: 7

Vertical: 1,600 feet

Map: Green Trails 269-Rainier West

Details: This relatively easy hike out of Mowich Lake takes you through the forest and into open meadows that offer some of the most breath-taking views of the mountain in the park.


Miles: 2.6

Vertical: 300

Map: Green Trails 270S-Paradise

Details: Before the roads start closing for winter try to sneak out on this short, easy walk. “Not only great colors, but lots of wildlife this time of year with a chance of seeing bears,” Bacher said. “Be bear aware.” The park offers information on handling bear encounters at each of its ranger stations and wilderness centers.


Miles: 1.5-7.5

Vertical: 400-1,000

Map: Green River 270-Rainier East

Details: “It’s usually a lot quieter up there than earlier in the summer,” Bacher said. “Great colors and good chances to see mountain goats and, sometimes, even hear elk bugling.” The road to Sunrise is open until Oct. 11. While there are many hiking options, Bacher recommends Fremont Lookout (5.6 miles) and Burroughs Mountain (7.4).


Miles: 1-7 miles

Vertical: 200-1,400 feet

Map: Green Trails 270S-Paradise

Details: The summer crowds are gone and the trails at Paradise are open for exploring. Bacher recommends the Skyline Loop (6 miles) and Mazama Ridge Trail (7). “The fall colors, especially on the east side of the (Skyline) trail, are always spectacular,” Bacher said.


Miles: 8.5

Vertical: 3,400

Map: Green Trails 270-Rainier East

Details: This hike to an old lookout isn’t for everybody. “It’s one of the steepest trails in the park, but it climbs up through an old burn, where the late summer flowers and fall colors are beautiful,” Bacher said. “There are lots of chances to see wildlife. I’ve seen bear, fox, coyote, deer, elk, marmot and pika. And the view from the top is spectacular.”

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