HIKE DESCRIPTION: When I hiked this trail, the mountain was so socked in I could see nothing but gray from the summit. However, I have it on good authority that this short hike offers a spectacular view of Mount Rainier under better conditions.
Mount Beljica is one of several scenic hikes on the outskirts of the park.
Hikers start climbing through the forest right away as they make their way to Lake Christine. This can be a scenic place for a lunch break. After about 1.5 miles, you will find a spur trail that will lead you to the 5,478-foot summit.
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The peak was once the site of a fire lookout.
DIRECTIONS: From state Route 706 east of Ashford, turn north on Forest Road 59/Copper Creek Road. After about 3½ miles, stay left at the junction and continue another 1½ miles to Forest Road 5920. Turn right and drive 2.4 miles to the trailhead.
DIFFICULTY RATING: 3 (1= easiest, 5 = most difficult).
MILES ROUND TRIP: 4 (but easily extended).
ELEVATION: 1,100 feet.
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR: June-October.
MAP: Green Trails 269-Mount Rainier West.
PASS: Northwest Forest Pass.
ALSO: Bring your bug repellent. The mosquitoes can get nasty, especially around Lake Christine. The hike can be extended. Continue on the main trail (from the cutoff for Mount Beljica) to Goat Lake or into Mount Rainier National Park. There is a camping area near Goat Lake. The Gobbler’s Knob Lookout is just inside the park. Hiking all the way to Gobbler’s Knob extends the round trip to 10 miles. Dogs are allowed in national forests, but they are not allowed in Mount Rainier National Park. According to The Mountaineers, Mount Beljica gets its name from the initials of the children of two families who climbed the peak in 1897. There are no geocaches hidden along the trail, but there is one on the forest road leading to the trailhead.
INFO: Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, 360-497-1100.