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ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

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ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

Hey everyone!

Thank you to all the contributors here answering questions!

I am leaving for Seattle tomorrow morning, and have the following itinerary planned. I've been trying to figure out what is possible and what's not due to weather, driving times, difficulty etc. Could you please provide some feedback on this itinerary?

Background: Mid-20s couple used to walking 2-3 miles every day to and from work. No hiking experience. Experience biking on roads but not mountain biking.

Planned itinerary:

Wednesday, June 13: Arrive in Seattle

MOUNT RAINIER

Thursday, June 14, morning: leave early in the morning (thinking 7-8am?) for Mount Rainier.

We were planning on doing the Skyline Trail. I am not sure if this will be open based on the road status on the park website:

nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/road-status.htm

As of May 29, according to the above link, Paradise Valley Road will still be closed when we arrive. Is it still possible to do the Skyline Trail?

Assuming we complete the Skyline Trail in ~5 hours, it should be about mid-afternoon / 3pm at this point. Will it be possible to do another trail/drive at this point?

Dinner at Alexander Country lodge at 7pm where we will be staying.

Friday, June 15 morning: Nisqually Vista trail? We will have a good amount of time on Friday as we were planning on driving back to Seattle in time for a 7pm dinner reservation. Still haven't ironed out the details of what to do on this day.

Saturday, Sunday June 16-17: Seattle

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK:

Monday, June 18:

Drive to Port Angeles/ONP, leaving at 7AM, aim to get to Hurricane Ridge by 11 AM.

We were planning on doing the Hurricane Ridge Trail/Cirque Rim trail. Is it ambitious at this point to do the High Ridge and/or Hurricane Hill trail?

nps.gov/olym/…Hurricane.pdf

After Hurricane Ridge, depending on which trails we can do, we were thinking of stopping by Lake Crescent, which should be a ~45 minute drive, hang out there.

Is this itinerary too jam-packed? Ideally we want to see as much as we can without rushing too much (isn't that always the goal? haha)

Tuesday, June 19:

Leave early in the morning (6,7 AM) for Rialto or Ruby beach (which would you suggest?), budgeting driving time of about 2 hours. Based on the tide tables on Kaleberg.com, this should leave us (on arrival) at about mid-way between high and low tide. Is this advisable?

After Rialto or Ruby beach, Hoh Rain Forest, assuming we arrive there around 1pm after a 2 hour drive. We are planning on the River Valley Trail here. How much time should we budget for this?

Depending on your feedback on the tides, would it make sense to do the Hoh Rain Forest first, and then do Rialto or Ruby beach?

Wednesday, June 20: leave Olympic Lodge at 7:30 AM, and allot a 4 hour travel time, to make sure we get to SEA-TAC in time for our 2 PM flight.

What do you guys think? Thanks in advance for any feedback and thanks for all the contributions in other posts! They helped to create this (still draft) itinerary.

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1. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

Sorry, few additional things:

Reason why I mentioned biking: Is mountain biking a good alternative for Hoh Rain Forest, or are the trails different/not as good of an experience as hiking?

As far as supplies, we will be wearing jeans/shorts, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen as well as winter jackets if necessary. Also will be bringing 1 meal and 1 snack just in case, 2 bottles of water, and a compass. For these hikes, besides maps that we can pick up at the visitor center, will we need anything extra?

Thanks again

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

I will get back to you on this, but you CAN NOT ride a bicycle on the trails in the Hoh. The only place you could bike is along the two lane road!

Seattle, Wa
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3. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

There is still 115" of snow on the trails at Paradise. Unfortunately you are at least a month too early to hike in the alpine at Rainier. Your best bet is to stop at the Longmire visitor center when you get to the park and ask what is accessible and what your best choices are. On the bright side, it's supposed to be partly sunny there on Thursday.

You cannot mountain bike on any trail in Rainier or Olympic (or most national parks). There are a couple old, closed roads where mt biking is allowed, but that's it.

Since you are leaving during rush hour, be sure to take Hwy 167>Hwy 161 south to Rainier, rather than taking I-5 south of the city. I personally would take Hwy 99>Hwy 509>I-405 to get to 167; that's how I go to Rainier on weekdays and I never encounter any slowdowns. The other alternative is getting on I-5 in the city, taking it south to 405 then getting on 167; I'm not sure how backed up southbound I-5 gets leaving town in the morning (maybe someone else will chime in).

Port Angeles, WA
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4. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

Unfortunately, your alpine hiking plans will be defeated by our very late spring this year. Hurricane Hill Rd. is not even open on Hurricane Ridge, let alone Hurricane Hill Trail. The Cirque Rim Trail is under snow, too. It is still worth driving up to Hurricane Ridge to see the wonderful views, and you should be able to walk a few hundred feet down a portion of Hurricane Hill Rd. as the park service has plowed some of it. Look for early avalanche lilies and glacier lilies along the edges of melting snow. If you do go up there, for safety's sake, make sure the weather is not foggy. You can call 360 565 3131 for a recording that will describe current conditions at Hurricane Ridge.

Your driving estimates are a little off. The summit of Hurricane Ridge is a 45 minute drive from the base. That means that the eastern shore of Lake Crescent is 1 hour and 15 minutes from the top of Hurricane Ridge, not 45 minutes. Lake Crescent is gorgeous, and if you can't do too much at Hurricane Ridge, consider taking the Spruce Railroad Trail on the eastern shore of Lake C, at least as far as the Devil's Punchbowl, a beautiful spot.

As Glaciermeadow has said, no biking on the Hoh trails. The trail you were talking about is called the River Trail. It is a wonderful trail that showcases both the trees and the amazing Hoh River, but it takes at least a 2 hour hike to get a sense of it. If you have 4 hours, hike the River Trail to 5 Mile Island and back, bringing a picnic lunch to eat on the river's bank. If you have only 2 hours, hike out to Tom's Meadow (also called Tom's Creek) and eat your lunch there.

Ruby Beach is far to the south of where you will be. Go to Rialto Beach. It's a shame about the tide, but don't worry. Rialto Beach is still beautiful and accessible even at high tide, and many of the tide pools and rocks there will still be visible.

You made a good choice with Olympic Lodge. It's not fancy, but it's comfortable and well run. If you need food suggestions, write in some more.

It's good that you are allowing plenty of time to return to Seattle. Just remember that you should be at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight. Sea-Tac is a little weird. Sometimes the TSA lines move very quickly. Sometimes they clog up endlessly. Be prepared.

Poulsbo, Washington
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5. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

You will not need sunscreen unless you plan on snowshoeing. As everyone has told you you will be too early for hiking at higher elevations. layers and raingear just in case is what you want. Jeans are the worst things to hike in for obvious reasons. Too warm. not comfortable for hiking and being heavy cotton about as bad as it gets when wet. Many people do, however, hike in them. Yesterday you would have wanted shorts. Today no. so bring both. Always bring a flashlight. I always carry matches and a very basic first aid kit. That is from force of habit from years of backcountry backpacking. I consider a flashlight a must! I fyou do not get of the trail (do not get off the trails) you should not need a compass. again many people would never hike without one. Here staying dry and warm is the big thing. Hopefully you will get weather like we had yesterday. And hopefully you do not hike in tennis shoes, though many visitors do. Sorry. You asked.

I would do this trip differently. I love Mt. Rainier, but since you are comming so early, I would only spend one night there and save another day for Olympic. Rainier will be worth the visit, but you are going to be very limited as to where you can hike. More opportunities this time of year at Olympic.

You have a couple of options for Olympic. Since you would be going to Hurricane ridge basically for a view ,due to more than average snowfall, I would not make that a must. You could consider the Quinault Rainforest and Ruby Beach instead of the Hoh and Rialto. although a boring drive, from Rainier it is a shorter drive and easier. Little traffic no toll bridge or ferry. I am not saying do this, I am just saying it is an option. You would miss driving along Lake Crescent. Kaleberg and I will never agree on this, but unless evening entertainment and food for one evening is a priority, I never understand why people drive all the way back to Port Angeles to stay in their best motel! The Forks area has some nice places to stay. The food IS pretty bad, but why not have a decent burger for one night so you can spend more time at the Hoh and catch a sunset or lowtide at Rialto. Sorry to me it makes no sense as I go to Olympic National Park to experience its wildness. This, however, is your trip and you are the one that knows your comfort level. I never get back to my room untill after the sun has set, but that is me.

The Spruce Railroad trail is lovely. but I prefer the walk to Sol Duc Falls although it is as short hike of under 2miles roundtrip.

Renton, WA
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6. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

A rescue whistle that can be heard 1/2 mile away. I got mine from REI for about five bucks.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

Thanks for the help everyone. It looks like mid/late June is not the best time! Yes, it looks like choosing to spend only 1 night in Rainier is the right move. Based on your feedback, we will shift more of our time from Hurricane Ridge to Lake Crescent on the Monday and try to get to Rialto Beach as early as possible on the Tuesday, leaving enough time to ideally do the 4 hour River Trail to 5 mile island and back.

Seattle, Wa
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8. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

I'm curious, since we get an astounding number of the same type of question (people who want to visit our national parks while they are still buried in snow): Are guidebooks falling down on the job and not letting people know that NW mountains/national parks aren't fully accessible until Jully at least? Or are people just not doing any research, and just assuming that once winter is over everything is open? I don't mean this as a slam on anyone, I just wonder where the breakdown in information is.

Or maybe they are like my Iowan in laws, who, visiting Chamonix a couple weeks ago, paid their 45E each to go up on the gondola, ever though the ticket seller told them it was socked in and snowing, and that they wouldn't be able to see anything. They thought, oh, it can't be that bad. Lol, It was of course. 45E each to see....white.

Edited: 1:48 pm, June 13, 2012
Poulsbo, Washington
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9. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

Christy I think it is a little of both. I lived in Colorado back in the mid 70's. Because of the amount of Spring sunshine and warmer temps. the Rockies started clearling at higher elevations earlier. Same with my experiences in the Alps. Even though we are talking about with the exception of Rainier, much higher mountain ranges. We are pretty unique here in terms of how late snow melts at even 4,000 feet. I think the fact that are winters are so mild adds to the confusion. There is also the case of some people that do not know how extreme conditions can get here at 3,000 or 4,000 feet compared to other mountain ranges. Hell Denver is over 5,000 feet high. Think what 5,000 feet is like here.

10. Re: ONP June 18-20, Mt Rainier June 14-15

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