Sometimes you have to make comprises – but they are not all bad. The week of 13th July I found myself in Washington State with a small group of family friends. On one day a couple of folks wanted to go hiking and I knew that we were fairly close to Mount Rainier National Park, so I took the opportunity for a quick day trip. The compromise was finding a trail that would work for a day trip and those folks wanting to hike, who were pretty inexperienced – Rampart Ridge fit the bill.
Based on the location and timing it looked like I had to settle on something in the Longmire area. From reports from the website and other sources, it looked like Paradise was still very much snowbound and navigation would be significantly more complex. After looking around a little I decided on a section of the Rampart Ridge trail. A loop hike of about 5 miles, some elevation gain but not too strenuous.
I followed my normal preparation, put together a small backpack, a pretty close approximation of the 10 essentials (missing a physical compass but with multiple electronic compasses), and my standard preparation for navigation.
Immediately out of Longmire the trail switchbacked up almost 1400 feet through trees, with only the very occasional break for a view. Initially, all the views are valley views and Mt. Rainier itself stays elusive.
The climb is not too bad, the trail is very well maintained and the switchbacks help take the steepness out. Before long the trail starts to flatter out as we got to the ridge itself. The ridge, and trail, run along the Ramparts, all the way up Van Trump Canyon.
We pass a small side trail, marked to a viewpoint. Again a view over the valley and Longmire.
The trail on the ridge is basically flat and much easier going. Of course, under these conditions navigation is not a problem either. This turns into a pleasant afternoon hike when we turned a corner and a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier opened up before us. Definitely the money shot – majestic and imposing. Still, much snow hanging in the lower elevations. Unfortunately, this would be pretty much the only mountain view from the hike – but certainly inspiring.
The trail on the ridgeline ran for maybe 1.5 miles before meeting the Wonderland Trail. This is the circumnavigation trail for Mt. Rainier and is definitely on my bucket list – at 90+ miles it will be a more in-depth exploration than this quick jaunt into the park.
The Wonderland Trail back down into Longmire was pretty similar to the hike up. A forested descent down the side of the ridge,
At just over 5 miles this was an enjoyable hike. It actually marked the first trip I have had to Mt. Rainier National Park and although brief inspired me for greater adventure here. Statistics for the trip: