Mount Rainier National Park has many options for day hikes that features panoramic view of snow cloaked volcano amidst the glaciers, surrounded by mountain ranges, wild flower meadows and valleys. The Paradise and The Sunrise at Mount Rainier National Park are most visited places that are located at highest points in the park. The Paradise located at an elevation of 5400 feet and The Sunrise located at an elevation of 6400 feet can be reached by vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park.
Paradise is open all year around to visitors, but Sunrise Point gets closed every winter due to heavy snow falls and snow accumulation at the highest point. This time we decided to visit the Sunrise just after it was opened for the summer season in mid-July. Sunrise has numbers of hiking trails that are easy to hike with panoramic views of Mount Rainier, meadows and mountains.
Sunrise Visitor Center has a big parking lot that usually gets filled up during the day. So, it’s always recommended to start early and reach before the parking gets full. There are all facilities like restrooms, snacks, gift shops, lodge at Sunrise Parking Lot. We planned to hike to Burroughs mountains to Third Burroughs.
Hike to Frozen Lake view point
- Hike- Frozen Lake
- Round Trip – 3 miles
- Difficulty Level – Easy
- Elevation gain – 550 feet.
We started from Sunrise Visitor Center following the Sourdough Ridge Trail to the Frozen Lake. The majestic view of Mount Rainier dominates in south direction from the start of the hike. Watching out for wild life views in to the valley from Sourdough Ridge trail was great fun to enjoy with children. We got to see the herd of mountain goats grazing in to the Huckleberry basin.
After walking for 1.5 miles on Sourdough Ridge trail, we reached Frozen Lake and arrive at a junction in the trail with informative signs and five different trail options. Frozen Lake is famous Lunch/ snack spots among visitors and hikers. And, its hot spot among visitors who are looking for capturing beautiful pics with easy walking.
Beyond Frozen Lake the foot traffic reduces as the trail splits in to five different trail options and most of visitors return back from Frozen Lake point. If you are looking for easy hiking around 3 miles round trip, then Frozen lake hike is a good option. Frozen lake is not frozen any more, it had some snow surrounding the lake.
After taking a small break to click photos at Frozen Lake, we proceeded in straight direction from the junction towards Burroughs Mountain. The trail slowly begins to gain elevation and narrow down in width with twisting and turning points. On walking over just 0.3 miles there were big snow patches to cross on the trail.
We were determined to reach to third Burroughs, so we enthusiastically cross the first patch of snow field. But soon after crossing first field of snow on twisting turning trail, we realized the danger of slipping on the snowy trail. We got the view of another more snow patches on the trail ahead. Our immediate next option was to hike the Fremont Fire Lookout Tower.
Turning Back from Burroughs Mountain trail to Frozen Lake Junction point
The snow on the trail was soft and slushy that made trail difficult to pass by with ease. A wrong step or little slip would lead to fall in to 100 + feet in to rocky valley. It was not worth the risk of moving ahead on this trail to Third Burroughs with kids. We had clear view of Berkeley Park and Mount Fremont from this place and Mount Fremont Ridge trail was looking snow free.
We turned around from the Burroughs Mountain trail safely crossing the single narrow trail on snowy path and back to Frozen lake junction point.
Hike to Fremont Fire Lookout Tower
- Hike – Mount Fremont Fire Lookout Tower.
- Elevation -800 feet.
- Round trip – 6 miles (back to Frozen lake and then to Parking Lot)
- Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
On reaching back to Frozen lake junction, we started our hike on Mount Fremont Ridge over 1.3 miles to Lookout tower. Trail starts from a board green meadow land and then slowly gains height. The trail passes past the Frozen lake. There are sign boards indicating that Frozen Lake serve as water source supply to Sunrise.
Fire Lookout towers always attract many visitors and hikers. Many of the Lookouts are destroyed or dismantled. Few Lookouts are left that can be reached either by vehicles or on foot. Fremont Fire Lookout Tower is one of the 4 lookout towers that is located at one of the highest peak in Mount Rainier National Park. Hike to the Mount Fremont Lookout tower have plenty of views to go around. The hike is easy one that can be done with children.
We continue north on the Mount Fremont Trail with steady climb on rocky terrain along Mount Fremont’s ridge. We got to see best view of the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier and distant view of Lookout tower. The wild flowers were bloomed on the side of the trails finding their way out of rocky terrain.
At some places the trails narrow down to a space that allows one direction people to pass while hikers going in other direction needs to wait and let other hiker pass. But it was safe and not as dangerous as crossing the snowy path on Burroughs mountain trails. The views of Mount Rainier, Emmons glacier, Berkeley Park, Lodi Creek, Willis Wall, Mount Ruth and Fremont Fire Lookout tower were amazingly mesmerizing.
The trail grows more rockier on approaching the lookout. The sound our footsteps made, it feels like we were walking on broken crockery as the flat rocks were rattling under our foot. On reaching the Lookout tower, it was hard to stray away eyes from the tower and the beautiful surrounding.
The two-story Fire Lookout tower was built in 1934 and is still used by Park Rangers. The stairs are opened to all to climb the tower, cat walk around the lookout square and glance inside the glass windows of the look out .
While we were capturing and enjoying the surrounding views, the clouds rolled in resulting to limited visibility. It got windy and chilled. So, it is always recommended to carry hiking 10 essentials and a light jacket. We enjoyed our lunch behind the Lookout tower with distant views of bears, goats in Grand Park among passing clouds and breaking sun light.
On clear sunny day, one can expect distant views of Curtis Ridge, Carbon Glacier, Liberty Ridge, Willis Wall, Burroughs Mountain and Yakima Park and the north and east side of Mount Rainier. There is no shade on the trail, so you will want to be prepared with layers of clothes, sun hat and sunscreen during sunny day.
Sunrise is the perfect place to watch the sunset if the conditions are clear. The 6-mile round trip hike from the Sunrise Lodge and Visitor Center to Mount Fremont Lookout is very scenic and fulfilling, with 800 feet of elevation gain.
Where is Sunrise Visitor Center?
From Seattle downtown, It is 2 hours drive to Sunrise Visitor Center. Take Route 410 (Mather Memorial Parkway) to Sunrise Road, 3.5 miles north of the intersection with Route 123. Turn west on Sunrise Road and drive 15 miles of switchbacks to the Sunrise area parking lot at the end of the road. The trail head is between the Sunrise visitor center and the Sunrise lodge.
There are many adventurous hiking trails at Mount Rainier National park that can be done with kids. If you like to hike the waterfalls at Mount Rainier then do read on my post on “Waterfalls of Mount Rainier National Park”.
If you are planning for one day trip to Mount Rainier and wish to see famous spots through drive through and pullover points, then do read on “Must Visit Places at Mount Rainier National Park”.
Stay Healthy, Happy Hiking…
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