Last weekend the sun was out, Mt. Rainier was towering overhead, and we took advantage of the break in the weather to squeeze in a Saturday morning hike before I needed to be home, accessible, and on-call for work.
We set out for the Rampart Ridge Loop trail from Longmire in Mt. Rainier National Park, surprised to find ample parking after the longer-than-usual line to get in the park entrance. It seemed like everyone was headed to Paradise, and Brian thought he had read something promoting the family-friendly Paradise Snow Play area that was sure to draw crowds on such a beautiful day.
Previous trip reports offered arguments for making this loop counterclockwise v. clockwise depending on whether you wanted to prioritize saving your knees on your descent (yes) or having an awe-inspiring viewpoint of the summit (also yes). We decided to prioritize the latter and set off clockwise, only meeting a handful of people on the trail.
Once we reached the first viewpoint of the surrounding mountains, the trail turned to packed snow and ice. We were happy to have our ice cleats and trekking poles — it would have been very slow going from that point until we met up with the Wonderland trail if we hadn’t had the additional traction. This was my second time wearing the new cleats and Brian’s first time — his pair arrived in the mail a few days prior to our hike.
Unlike our normal ice trekkers, these have actual microspikes that really dig into the ice (Brian is modeling them below!). Awesome for going up and downhill!
The summit viewpoint was as awesome as other hikers had claimed — one minute you’re tromping along in the woods and suddenly you round a corner and are on an exposed stretch of trail with uninhibited views of the summit directly in front of you!
We returned to Longmire via the Wonderland trail, completing our loop with Gaia reporting 5.15 miles and 1,391 feet of gain. It took us 2.5 hours with 20 minutes of stopped time – perfect for a quick morning outdoors.
Always happy to see the sunshine and mountain out!