Washington Hikes: Nisqually Vista Loop and Deadhorse Creek

IMG_3009_LUCiDDespite the overcast skies we decided to squeeze in one more hike to round out our weekend of hiking adventures when we woke up at Mt. Rainier National Park’s Paradise Inn on Sunday morning.

We headed over to the Nisqually Vista Loop for an easy hike to a series of overlooks that were supposed to offer great views of Mt. Rainier’s summit as well as the receding Nisqually glacier.

Coffee in (my) hand, we made our way down the paved trail through the woods and some open grassy areas toward the viewpoints. As the winds tossed the clouds about we would occasionally catch glimpses of the snowy, rocky sides of the summit, but the full picture never came into view.

We finally came to the turnaround point in the trail at the four viewpoints– and we couldn’t see anything but clouds! We had encountered a few sprinkles during our walk but nothing too bad so we decided to circle around and do the loop again. Given how quickly the wind was moving the clouds around we thought there might be a chance that things would look different by the time we passed by again.

We were right! Our second time coming to the viewpoints we could see the glacier and the runoff cascading down the rocky slopes to the Nisqually river below. The weather changes so quickly on the mountain–if you are there and have a similar experience, try to wait it out! Like us, you might be pleasantly surprised!

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After completing the loop a second time we headed up Deadhorse Creek trail toward Moraine trail, which was on my original list. Suddenly I spotted a grouse quietly sitting along the trail and then quickly realized there were several that we had already walked by and completely missed! One was sitting on top of a rock just next to us! It’s amazing how well hidden they are when they hold still and don’t make any sounds.

We had just arrived at Moraine trail when the rain caught up to us. We quickly headed for the Skyline Trail back down to the lodge, passing a few other brave souls along the way.

Overall we hiked 3.8 miles with 705 feet of gain– not too shabby for an early morning hike before our drive home! I’m sure these hikes are even more impressive when the weather is cooperating and you can see Mt. Rainier’s summit. I guess we’ll have to return and try our luck again. Until next time, Mt. Rainier!

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