Hike description: This Mount Rainier hike starts above the tree line at Sunrise with its wonderful wildflower displays (in season, of course) and breathtaking, expansive views, and then takes you below the tree line for lunch in the woods. From the parking lot, you head up the hill to the Sourdough Ridge Trail and go right (west) toward Frozen Lake and Mount Fremont Lookout. You take the Sourdough Ridge Trail less than a ½ mile to the Huckleberry Creek Trail junction, at about 6,800 feet. Sourdough Ridge is the main thoroughfare at Sunrise and very busy on a sunny summer day, especially on the weekends. When you leave the Sourdough Ridge Trail you will feel as though you have stepped off the edge of the Earth. The views are magnificent. The Huckleberry Creek Trail will drop down into the forest and in 1.6 miles brings you to Forest Lake Camp. Forest Lake is aptly named as this pretty little lake is nestled in amongst the trees. There is just one campsite at the lake and it must be reserved. But there is space enough around the lake for you to enjoy your picnic lunch and cool off before heading back up the hill. Savor the views, and the quiet, before getting back on the Sourdough Ridge thoroughfare. If you can get a permit, Forest Lake Camp makes a good, short gearshakedown backpack trip.
Directions: Drive state Route 410 about 43 miles east of Enumclaw. Turn right at the Mount Rainier National Park White River entrance. Take the road from the entrance up to Sunrise.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 5
Elevation: 1,000 feet
Best time of year: July-September
Map: Green Trails 270 Mount Rainier East
Pass: Weekly or annual Mount Rainier or National Park pass
Also: The parking lot at Sunrise is at 6,400 feet elevation, quite a bit higher than the sea level most of us are used to. Start out slowly to give your body a chance to adjust to the thinner air. A hat and sunscreen will offer the only protection from the sun for most of the hike. With proper water treatment (filter or tablets) you can replenish your water at the lake. Stay on the trail as this is a fragile area with a short growing season. Restrooms are at the White River Entrance to the Park and at the trailhead at Sunrise, as well as a pit toilet up the hill from Forest Lake.
Info: www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm for trail and road conditions; “Day Hiking Mount Rainier” and “50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park” (see Huckleberry Creek Trail), both Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.