|Mount Rainier viewed from Rampart Ridge|
Access: Paved road to trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park entrance fee required
There aren't many good things that I can say about the hike to Rampart Ridge. There's a single good view all hike and the hike is too popular to enjoy as a quiet wander in the woods. National Park Service literature and many guidebooks recommend this hike; while this isn't necessarily a bad hike, it is certainly not one of the highlights of Mount Rainier National Park and only makes sense as a hike if higher-elevation trails have not melted out yet.
I did this hike with two friends, one of whom was on a short visit to Seattle, on an early May day. We intended originally to hike near Paradise, but my friends lacked appropriate gear for hiking in the snow, so we settled for stops at Paradise and Narada Falls for photos before returning to Longmire to do this hike.
|Rainbow at Narada Falls|
We took the Wonderland Trail heading north from the north end of the Longmire parking area (near the Longmire Museum). The first few hundred meters of trail roughly paralleled the road to Paradise, which meant we were never far from the sound of traffic.
We followed the Wonderland Trail across the Paradise Road and then hiked through a gentle uphill for the next couple hundred meters. The trail passed some large old-growth trees before it embarked on a much more substantial uphill climb. About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, we reached a junction with the Van Trump Park Trail, which led off to the right; we stayed left to stay on the Wonderland Trail. Another fifth of a mile farther, we came to a junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail, which marked the end of the climb for the hike.
We took the left fork for the Rampart Ridge Trail, which followed the top of the forested ridge. There were no views to speak of for the next mile, which featured little elevation gain and little else of interest.
The best portion of the hike was a mile after coming to the top of the ridge- and a little over 2.7 miles past the trailhead- when the trail emerged into an open talus slope overlooking the Kautz Creek watershed. At the southern end of the talus slope, we looked back and saw a beautiful view of Mount Rainier in its snow-capped spring glory.
|View of Mt. Rainier from the talus slope|
|Skunk cabbage in wetlands near Longmire|
|Mount Rainier viewed from Longmire|