Hiking in the PNW

It’s true that it tends to rain a lot throughout the year in the Pacific Northwest, but there are two or three months in the summer that are absolutely beautiful – warm and sunny every day, and virtually never a cloud in the sky. And as an added bonus, in some of the areas around the largest mountains, like Mt. Rainier or Mt. Olympus, there are countless wildflowers in full bloom at this time. While I’ve been focused on rocketry throughout 2020, this was a great opportunity to take a break, get outdoors, and do some hiking.

We spent a few days in Mt. Rainier National Park, and then headed up north to the San Juan Islands for a few days as well. First, in the Mt. Rainier area, we hit Naches Peak Trail. This was a great introduction to the area. It was loop trail that offered stunning views and wildflowers along the way, overlooking a beautiful lake and with Mt. Rainier in the distance (in our case, unfortunately obscured by clouds that day).

Naches Peak Trail - wildflowers
Naches Peak Trail – wildflowers
Naches Peak Trail - clouds obscuring Mt. Rainier
Naches Peak Trail – clouds obscuring Mt. Rainier

The second day, we hiked the Skyline Trail at Paradise, which is south of Mt. Rainier. Paradise is aptly named – this was probably the most beautiful hike we’ve ever done, including the immediate landscape around us (trees, valleys, wildflowers) and the proximity to Mt. Rainier, and fantastic views of other mountain chains and peaks in every direction. In the distance you could see Mt. Baker to the north, and Mt. Adams and even Mt. Hood (in Oregon!) to the south.

Skyline Trail, with Mt. Rainier
Skyline Trail, with Mt. Rainier
Skyline Trail, mountains in distance
Skyline Trail
Skyline Trail - wildflowers
Skyline Trail – wildflowers
Skyline Trail in Paradise
Skyline Trail in Paradise

Finally, we hiked up the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail from Sunrise, which is southeast of Mt. Rainier. This trail had more of a barren landscape, but offered the best views of Mt. Rainier itself:

My wife and I, with Mt. Rainier in the background
Mount Fremont Trail - view of Mt. Rainier with pine trees in foreground
Mount Fremont Trail views

After three days (and three intense hikes) around Mt. Rainier, we went up to the San Juan Islands. And after that, we took one more day trip out to the Mt. Rainier area again and did the Tolmie Peak trail. But I’ll save some of these photos for a future update!