Hike description: This hike via Lake Christine Trail No. 249 combines an easy hike along a ridge and to a high lake with a short, steep scramble up to the site of an old fire lookout.
The trail begins with a brief, steep climb and soon skirts around the tiny Lake Christine with its great rest spots. Half a mile farther, look for an unmarked but obvious trail to the left at 4,600 feet, up Mount Beljica. The climb will be steep but taken slowly it’s worthwhile for the spectacular views of Mount Rainier from the summit at 5,475 feet. Reward yourself with a rest and lunch at the top, savoring the views of Rainier and its neighboring – though lesser – peaks.
Beljica takes its name from the children of the two families who summited the peak in 1897: Burgon, Elizabeth, Lucy, Jessie, Isabel, Clara, and Alex.
From your perch at the top you can begin to plan future trips to explore the area further. Spot the huckleberry bushes as you hike and, if you missed them this trip, plan to catch them in season next year.
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Directions: From state Route 706, at 3.8 miles east of Ashford, turn left (north) on Forest Service Road 59, Copper Creek Road. (The sign for Road 59 may be hidden about 50 yards up this road. If you get to the Copper Creek and the 11-mile marker on the road, you missed the turn. Turn around and find Road 59.) Drive 3.4 miles up the road to a junction, watching for sign to Lake Christine. Go left at the junction onto Road 5920. In another 2.4 miles you be at the Lake Christine trailhead at the end of the road.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 4
Elevation: 1,100 feet
Best time of year: June to October
Map: Green Trails 269 - Mount Rainier West
Pass: None required
Information: For road and trail conditions and pass requirements, check with the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in Randle, 360-497-1100, www.fs.fed.us/gpn. “Day Hiking Mount Rainier,” Mountaineers Books, has information on this and other trails in the area.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.