I hadn’t been out to Mount Rainier in several years, so I opted to head there for a day hike on Saturday. My friend Christine had been looking for a good starter hike since she had never gone before, so I lied to her and told her that the Skyline Loop was the easiest hike in the park so that she would go with me. Unfortunately my plans were quickly foiled when the first 2.5 miles of the hike was all uphill.
Even though the initial stretch was pretty strenuous, and Christine was threatening to kill me every 10ft, I truly believe that deep down in her soul she appreciated the fact that I would lie to her face so that we could share this experience together, while sweating profusely in the 90 degree heat. She also thought it was really funny when she would ask how much further it was to the top, and I would point to the top of Mount Rainier. I mean, she didn’t audibly laugh, but you could tell she thought I was fucking hilarious. I’m a really good friend, and this is probably why everyone likes me so much.
Beyond the climbing for miles uphill in the sweltering heat, the Skyline Trail might be the best trail I’ve been on so far in Washington State. Besides the fact that you’re essentially hiking up to the base of the mountain, there are unbelievable views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood from the top on a clear day. Unfortunately there are wildfires in the area right now, so we only had a clear view of Adams, while St. Helens was somewhat obstructed, and Hood had almost entirely vanished in the haze.
During the hike you’re almost always facing Rainier, and you also pass through several areas with small waterfalls, and streams. Even this late in to the summer the wildflowers are still in bloom, but the marmots should have the rest of them devoured by mid-September.
Some people choose to hike this loop counterclockwise, but I would highly advise going clockwise and getting all of the elevation out of the way at the start. While it can be difficult at times, there are plenty of areas where you can step off the trail and just appreciate the view and snap some pictures. I’ve also read that a lot of people make it to Panoramic Point and then turn around and head back… KEEP GOING! After a little more elevation the rest of the hike is either level, or downhill. It’s definitely worth completing.