Hike Distance: 8.5 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 899 miles
Elevation Gain: 1366 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 91968 feet
We headed up to Mt. Rainier National Park to escape the heat in the Portland-Vancouver area. It was a smart decision as the temps at Mt. Rainier stayed in the 70’s.
We decided to hike the Wonderland Trail counter-clockwise from Longmire. The first 2 miles were devoid of hikers, until we went just past the Cougar Rock Campground area, where cars were parked on the road. The trail then heads down into the Paradise River area and over a single lane (one hand rail) bridge. Carol wasn’t too fond of this crossing since the river was raging and the narrow bridge intimidating.
After the bridge crossing the trail continuously ascends until you reach Carter Falls. Carter Falls is quite beautiful but a good photo is difficult because of trees obstructing the view. You’re also on a cliff with nowhere to maneuver to get a better picture. Nobody was at the falls viewpoint with us! We continued on, and the trail leveled off for the remainder of our hike. There were three more water crossings that had very wide walkways but with no handrails at all. The last bridge was 15 feet high and crossed over the Paradise River.
We then turned around and headed back since it was late, and our drive home would be almost 2.5 hours. On the way back the crowds increased significantly once we reached Carter Falls. In fact, it was a zoo with all the people on the trail. Once we got past the parking area near Cougar Rock Campground the number of hikers we saw went to zero! Well almost, as we met a very nice retired couple a few tenths of a mile before reaching Longmire. A fantastic day in a perfect National Park!