DAY 1 of our Washington trip (June 26, 2010):
We began our trip through Washington State at Mount Rainier State Park. From Sea-Tac it took us about 6 hours to get to the Paradise Inn (however, we stopped for lunch, stopped at Wal-mart to get supplies, and took an accidental, but delightful detour at the Weyerhaeuser campus to see the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection). As we arrived in the park at the Nisqually Entrance (after refueling in Ashford--> no gas in the park!), I began to get worried that the restaurants would close before we had a chance to get dinner, so we rushed toward the Paradise Inn Dining Room, where we were lucky to get a table without waiting. We dined on buffalo meatloaf and sundried tomato pasta and even treated ourselves to dessert.
We stayed at the Paradise Inn in one of their lodge rooms for two nights. See review here: tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g143044-d123001…
DAY 2 of our Washington trip (June 27, 2010):
We started our first full day in the park with the Rampart Ridge Trail near Longmire. We started the trip on the Wonderland Trail, before it connected to the Rampart Ridge Trail. The mile marker signs seemed to add tenths of a mile to our journey each time we saw one, but I think the hike was a 4.6 mile loop, gaining 1339 ft in elevation (pretty steep!) that ended at the Trail of the Shadows nature trail back at Longmire.
From there we headed to Comet Falls. We laughed at the sign that warned hikers to bring icepicks, but realized that although late June, the end of the trail was still covered in snow. We were glad we had waterproof pants and trekking poles. The Comet Falls trail was about 3.8 miles round trip, elevation gain of 900 feet. There is an option to continue on past the breath-taking falls, but we lost the trail in the snow and had to turn back.
We finished up the day with the Nisqually Vista trail up at Paradise. It’s a 0.8-mile loop, just 0.3 miles from the Jackson Visitor Center. Apparently had we come about 3 weeks later, the hike would have been through a meadow of wildflowers, but we went the whole way in the snow. Got some amazing views of the glacier though.
DAY 3 of our Washington trip (June 28, 2010):
The next day we began the day with a drive along Paradise Valley Road, just past the inn. I was excited about seeing Reflection Lake, but of course, like everything else, we found it covered in ice and snow--no reflections until mid-July. We started the Snow Lake trail, but only made it 0.8 miles in (we stopped at Bench Lake) before we decided to turn back.
On the way out of the national park, we stopped at Narada Falls overlook and then Carter Falls hike (7.2 miles out and back, 900 ft elevation gain).
**Although it was fun to be able to hike through the snow on some of our hikes, if we had arrived 2 or 3 weeks later (mid-July), everything would have been covered in wildflowers. We also decided not to head up to the Sunrise area of the park, because although the road had just opened, most was still covered in snow and none of the attractions were open yet. Next time...