HIKE DESCRIPTION: Starting in the trees, Mount Rainier makes its first appearance as a snow cap poking just above the surrounding foothills. But the higher you climb, the more stunning the view becomes.
Wildflowers can be spectacular on the upper slopes (but there weren’t many during our Aug. 4 visit). Hikers sometimes report seeing elk and mountain goats in the area, and sightings of smaller wildlife are almost assured. The shelter from the sun disappears as you near the top, and there are no water sources.
The walk along the ridge offers abundant photo opportunities, including Mount Adams, much of the Cascades and the Crystal Mountain Resort. A short spur trail takes hikers to the 6,858-foot summit of Norse Peak with its in-your-face view of Mount Rainier.
From here descend the way you came or take advantage of the other trails in the area to extend your trip.
DIRECTIONS: Follow state Route 410 to Crystal Mountain Boulevard near the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Turn left and follow Crystal Mountain Boulevard to Gold Hill Road. Find parking off the road and make the short hike up Gold Hill Road to the trailhead, which will be on the left.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 4 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 10.8.
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,800 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: July-October.
MAP: Green Trails 271: Bumping Lake.
PASS: Northwest Forest Pass. $5 per day, $30 per year. Or an $80 interagency annual pass.
ALSO: Crystal Mountain Resort is nearby and another potential starting point for this hike. Crystal Mountain’s Summit House and gondola are open for the summer if you’re looking for an easier way to grab stunning mountain views. The gondola and restaurant are open daily until Sept. 20. Gondola rides are $15-$25 depending on the day and the visitor’s age. Dogs are allowed on the trail to Norse Peak, but they must be on leashes. There are several geocaches hidden in the area around the trail.
Craig Hill: 253-597-8497