A couple weekend’s ago, Brian found us another amazing Mt. Rainier National Park hike – Eagle Peak Saddle.
We arrived at Longmire around 8 a.m. to find the parking lot already quite full. The WTA instructions for this hike recommended parking near the lodge, walking through the employee cabin area, and crossing the bridge to access the trailhead. This ended up being the right thing to do as the couple parking spots at the trailhead were also already full.
Despite all of the vehicles, we only passed a few groups of people. Most of our steady climb was under tree cover, and we only had to contend with a handful of easily navigable trees across the trail.
Once we reached about 5,000 feet, we came to some sections of loose rock and two very small sections of trail with residual snow. We had gone back and forth about whether we needed anything more than hiking shoes and trekking poles, but it turned out those were more than sufficient – with the way the weather’s been behaving, the little snow that remains won’t be there much longer.
The final switchbacks to the saddle wound through beautiful alpine wildflowers – our first true wildflower hike in Washington.
We saw avalanche lilies and what I think were bluebells along the covered path, and then bright red Indian paintbrushes, bear grass, tiger lilies, and amazing corn lilies along the exposed trail.
The gorgeous views made this steep section more than bearable, and soon enough we were at a sign marking the end of the maintained trail.
Some people were preparing to rock climb to the peak on our left, but we opted to follow a small path to the right that led to a clearing with incredible views of Mt. Rainier’s peak.
We took a break at 5,688 feet to have a snack and some water before descending and heading for home.
All told our hike clocked in at 7.84 miles and 2,963 feet of gain, and it took us 4 hours and 29 minutes with 20 minutes of stopping time, primarily at the saddle. Another beautiful and relatively challenging hike at Mt. Rainier!