|The summit re-emerges, on the way back up Second Burroughs|
Access: Mount Rainier National Park Entrance Fee ($20 in 2015, $25 in 2016), paved road to the trailhead
Burroughs Mountain is the most outstanding hike in the Sunrise area of Mt. Rainier National Park. While the first summit is quite close to the visitor center and attempted by many visitors to the park, it is Third Burroughs, the final of the set of three flattopped summits, that delivers the most thrilling up-close view of the most prominent mountain of the contiguous United States. Along the hike, there are magnificent views of the meadows around Sunrise and of the Emmons and Winthrop Glaciers, the largest glaciers in the United States outside Alaska. The hike to the first peak is doable by most people in decent shape; the second peak can be climbed with just a slight bit more effort. Hiking to Third Burroughs requires following an unmaintained path up a steep, rocky slope and is more challenging.
I hiked this trail with a good friend who I had known in Virginia who came to visit at the end of August. The weather was unfortunately quite poor during the weekend of his visit; Saturday saw pouring rain in Seattle. Sunday was still quite cloudy but I wanted to take my friend to Mt. Rainier, so we set out from Seattle towards the mountain, taking I-5 south to its junction with Route 18, just north of Tacoma; we then took 18 east for a few miles and then hopped on Route 164 south at Auburn, turning left at the end of the exit ramp from Route 18 onto Route 164. We followed 164 for about twenty minutes past the Muckleshoot Reservation to Enumclaw, then took Route 410 east from Enumclaw for about an hour into Mount Rainier National Park. Less than 10 minutes after entering the park, we took the turn off to the right towards Sunrise and followed that road to its terminus at the meadows of Sunrise, over 6000 feet above sea level on Sourdough Ridge. While parts of the glaciers on the volcano were visible, we couldn't see the summit of Rainier itself on the drive in; Columbia Crest was still socked in the clouds.
At Sunrise, we hopped on the trail to Frozen Lake, which departs near the Sunrise Day Lodge. We followed the main trail towards Sourdough Ridge and headed left at the trail junction. We very quickly reached the top of Sourdough Ridge and its views of the far-reaching Cascades and of the rocky meadows below. At the top of the ridge, we took the trail to the left, which led us west in the direction of Mt. Rainier. We continued to follow the ridgeline, providing frequent wide views to the north and constant views of Mt. Rainier and the flat summit of our first objective, Burroughs Mountain. During sunnier visits, I've often enjoyed the jaw-dropping views of the Emmons Glacier flowing down the summit of Rainier from this perspective.
|Burroughs Mountain on the trail to Frozen Lake|
|Ascent up the first Burroughs|
|The flat summit of the First Burroughs|
The trail followed the northern rim of First Burroughs closely, providing spectacular views of the rocky, jagged outcrops on the slopes of Second Burroughs and of the lush, green meadows of Berkeley Park, which is nestled between the rocky peaks of Skyscraper Mountain and Mount Fremont.
|Skyscraper Mountain and the meadows of Berkeley Park|
|Emmons Glacier from Second Burroughs|
|Chipmunk on Second Burroughs|
After a good two and a half hours of hiking and staring at clouds where the summit should have been, the skies finally opened up for a brief moment to reveal the glorious snow-capped summit of Mt. Rainier. The clouds just as quickly returned and stayed atop the mountain until after we had started our descent from Third Burroughs.
|The summit appears on the way to Third Burroughs|
|Winthrop Glacier from Third Burroughs|
|Rainier and Third Burroughs|
|Goat Island Mountain from Sunrise Rim Trail|
|Rainier and the Emmons Glacier from Sunrise Rim|
|Sourdough Ridge and White River|