There is a great deal to see and do at Mount Rainier National Park. Our group decided to do a hike on our first full day in the park. It turned out to be one of the best hikes ever! The experience hiking up to Mount Rainier, seeing three avalanches happen, the kids playing in snow in July, and viewing the most incredible panoramic mountain views ever will never be forgotten. I highly recommend hiking Skyline Trail Loop if you visit Mount Rainier.
The Skyline Trail Loop is located in the Paradise hub of Mount Rainer National Park. This trail is listed as moderate to strenuous. The most strenuous part of the hike is the way up. It is steep, rocky, and challenging in some parts. Our entire group of 8 adults and 10 kids started the hike together. Only 5 adults and 9 kids finished. It is not a hike for everyone. If you have issues with your knees, joint pain, or limited mobility then this hike may not be for you. My nephew Rory is 5 and he completed the hike. He was hiking champ of the day! I am still so impressed with his hiking abilities, and that he made it the entire way without complaints.
The hike is a 5.8 mile loop. It begins at 5,400 hundred feet elevation and goes all the way to 7,100 feet. That is 1,700 feet of elevation gain. The trail passes waterfalls, streams, snow fields, Paradise Glacier, and fields of alpine wildflowers. There is wildlife to be seen on this hike as well. Our group saw several marmots up close. The views on this hike are nothing short of jaw dropping.
The parking lot at Paradise does become full. It is recommended that you go in the early morning hours, by 8:00 or 9:00 am at the latest, because it will fill completely. At the Paradise Hub there is a visitor’s center, rangers, and a gift shop with food. There are also restrooms at this location. Be sure to pack plenty of water, because the hike typically takes 4-5 hours, and it is strenuous. Bring along a light jacket or a sweater because the winds coming off the snow-covered mountains is quite cold at times. We felt hot at some points and then downright chilly other times during the hike. Layers are a good idea. Just remember you must carry it all for over 5 miles, so a comfortable backpack is a good idea. If you like using hiking poles, they will be useful for this hike.
Don’t forget to pack some snacks and food. We underestimated how long it would take our group to complete this hike. We ended up eating lunch late afternoon because we left it in our cars. Thankfully we did have snacks in our backpacks. The kids ate all the snacks by the end of the hike. This hike will take a lot out of you, so refueling with snacks along the way is a wise idea.
There is one bathroom at the top of the mountain at Panorama Point. It was very smelly, and the toilet is not a flushing toilet. But it will do the job if needed. I needed it after three hours of hiking and lots of water consumed.
Bring along a hiking map, so you know where you are going. There are trial markers along the way, but it is always helpful to have a map for hikes where there are multiple intersecting trails along the way. If you accidently get off the main trail, you will be able to get yourself back with a map. You can take a photo of the trail map with your smart phone. You can find this map on a large trail map at the base of the hike if you don’t have a paper map.
This hike is one of the best hikes I have ever done in my entire life. I highly recommend doing the Skyline Trail Loop if you are capable. The views will be some of the best you have ever seen! Check out my photos below for an idea of what you can see on this hike.