At 14,409 ft., Mt. Rainier stands slightly taller than Mt. Shasta. But with its icy glaciers, deep crevasses, and steep slopes, technical climbing skills are required to summit Mt. Rainier. Summiting Mt. Rainier will be another dream I hope to achieve once I attain the technical skills in the future. Thus, we left behind the ice axes and crampons and stuck to trails along the mountain and nonetheless enjoyed its scenic hikes during a brief period of perfect, sunny days.
First things first. I was craving a bike ride. With its gradual climbs and descents and switchbacks along a valley of mountains, the ride up to the Sunrise viewpoint/parking lot on the northeast side of the park hit the spot.
We saved the best hike for our second day–Panorama Point at Paradise, the most popular stop, viewpoint, and trailhead in the south at Mt. Rainier National Park. Although not a long hike, fantastic 360º views surrounded us with every step we took. Plan on taking plenty of pictures!
By the time we returned to the parking lot we were surprised that there were quite a number of visitors and vehicles for an autumn Thursday. It is said that by 9am on a sunny summer weekend the Paradise parking lot is completely filled. That said, visiting and hiking the national parks in the fall (shoulder season) is definitely the way to go. Our original plan was to relax after two days at Mt. Rainier, but with only one more warm, sunny day in the forecast we beelined for the mountains at North Cascades National Park.