Rainer is an active stratovolcano that erupted last time in 1854. Some told that if it erupts again, it could threaten Seattle and cause tsunamis in Puget Sound.
The Native Americans called it Tahoma, or Tacoma – “mother of the waters.” The name Rainer was given by George Vancouver in honor of Admiral Peter Rainer.
Every Washington license plate displays the biggest brilliant of the state, the glaciers covered Mt Rainer.
When we left waterfalls and national forest, our drive should follow the scenic road through Randle to Packwood passing amazing Mt St Helens. We stopped at McClellan Viewpoint to take few pictures of the mighty volcano. Then after few miles, we were stopped because of the road closures because of the avalanche. So nothing left to turn around and head to Highway 5 and take the long round road.
After spending the night at Packwood with elks eating grass under the windows of the hotel room and with cloudy view on the Rainer from the same window, we entered the park from Ohanapecosh entrance.
We stopped at the busy trailhead of Grove of the Patriarch trail to walk a bit near the Ohanapecosh River and proceeded drive to the center of the park.
Steven’s Canyon Rd has epic views. We stopped few times to get photos of beautiful lakes with Rainer reflection or the still snow covered mountains.
It’s told that James Longmire said: “Oh, what a paradise” when described his daughter the very first visit to this place.
Paradise was the most wanted place for me for this trip. From the first glance on the shot of the Rainer covered with colorful wildflowers, I fell in love. I had few places and views that I wanted to see here most of them on Skyline Trail. What was the surprise for me when in few days before the national park visit I found out that most of the trails are still 90 to 100 percent snow covered and I will not see any wildflower!
I tried to adjust plans to hike Sunrise region (no luck either, all trails are snow covered), to find something equally impressive in Longmire. But still returned to the short 0.4-mile hike to Myrtle Falls at Paradise. Somewhere inside I had the hope that if we are able to hike falls, then we will be able to walk higher and check Skyline…
I never walked snow so deep and so watery in my hiking boots. It was torture! Slippery way scared me so much I wasn’t able to check surroundings. Somewhere after crossing the waterfall bridge on the uphill way, I almost lost my concentration and fell. Hopefully, there were cables one side of the trail so I could catch them and balanced myself. Only then we stopped and looked around.
The view was impressed. Still, white snow covered slopes of the mountains, patches of the ground glowed with early Spring yellow and white wildflowers. Almost no crowds – I think most of the tourist weren’t able to walk all the way in Summer footwear. Positive mood returned to us, and we even played with snow for some time.
So what about the waterfall? We almost lost the trail to the viewpoint when crossed the bridge. Though later returned back to find out the queue to the overview area. So it was crowdy 🙂 and someone regularly walked on the bridge. All these made almost impossible to make a good photo of the falls. The recommendation to visit early morning definitely makes sense. As always, of course 🙂
And the last photo from the trail with the roofs of iconic Paradise Inn built in 1916. It was a short but not fast hike (because of snow), my boots were partly wet and Eugene’s – completely. Hopefully, he had another pair to change.
Narada Falls is the most accessible waterfall in the park. The short 0.2-mile trail to the misty falls. Water spray produces full rainbow around the falls which add additional charm to it. Though easily accessible waterfall is always surrounded by tourists.
Comet Falls Hike
So when I wasn’t able to find the trail in Paradise area, somehow my eyes stopped at Comet Falls. The hike I didn’t plan initially because of its popularity became the option after all.
It was around 4 PM when we stopped in the small parking lot near the trailhead. Not parked but just stopped. As expected it was full. After 15 minutes of nervous wait, we finally got space and started the hike.
First, the trail crosses Van Trump Creek, and you get the first view of the cascades going down through granite pools, and then you are pushed up to walk dozen of switch backs before returning to the powerful stream’s bank. And of course, you will get a fantastic view of the Rainer!
Bloucher Falls impressed us not less than Narada Falls, and we had some rest at their base.
Immediately after crossing them, we got the overview of the Comet Falls. Among the highest of the park’s waterfalls, Comet Falls look unforgettable for such a short hike.
And of course all these early Spring wildflowers! Oh, the hike looked and felt amazing!
After the hike we headed to the southwestern park entrance, Nisqually, to exit the park, check in at the hotel, and have dinner.
Hour before the sunset we returned back to the park to the trail following Nisqually River to wait for the sunset. It’s another part of the park worth to mentioned – Longmire. The region named after James Longmire first came here in 1883 during a climbing trip. He found the hot springs were later he and his family opened Longmire’s Medicine Springs. Later National Park Inn was built at the site of the hotel near the springs.