Mt. Rainier National Park: Oh, this summer

Rainier
Mount Rainier

During the trip to Mount Rainier National Park, we took two very different hikes, both rewarding and perfect in their own ways. As little is now capable of hiking a little father and higher, we try to hit easy to moderate hikes that won’t last more than three hours. The fact is, mom and dad aren’t in the best shape and this seems to be the perfect amount of hiking for us all.

 

wildflowers

Day One, Natches Peak Loop Trail: (https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/natches-peak-loop.htm) This 3.5 mile loop is often listed as easy but we would classify it as a more moderate hike. There is a bit of elevation gain at the beginning and we had to take aSnow! few breaks. Once you are high enough and through the tree line, the trail evens out for nice couple miles. It’s accessible July – mid October and is a very popular trail for families.  Late July and into August the real show is the spectacular wildflowers – fields of color popping with the gorgeous alpine setting behind. Even in late July we were able to find a few patches of snow!

The trail provides wonderful views of Mount Rainier and Dewey Lake. We met up with a group of horseback riders that were coming up Lake.jpgthe mountain as well as a few people headed over to the PCT, as the trail joins up for a short amount of time. We were tempted to head down to Dewey Lake but there were a few other Alpine lakes we hiked by. In total we spend just over 3 hours hiking the loop, but that included a wonderful lunch break on the rocks watching the mountain come out of the clouds. A great hike and one we will definitely do again.

BatCave
This is his serious spelunker face

Day Two, Boulder Cave Trail:  (http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/boulder-cave)

This short and sweet trail was perfect for littles. With less than 300 feet of elevation gain and only 2 miles round trip, it was an easy hike with a very cool highlight: Bat cave! After hiking about a mile, we entered the cave which is only about 500 ft long/5 minutes hike. There is a very clear trail to follow. Don’t forget your headlamps and flashlights! We were very excited to spot Pacific Western Big-Eared Bats but alas, we didn’t spot a single one. According to the little guy, that didn’t matter – heading into a dark cave was adventure enough. At the end of the cave, the trail points you back to the trailhead.

 

 

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Mt. Rainier National Park: We Are All Made of Stars

The end of July already? One thing our family always looks forward to is summer camping. I mean, it’s car camping. But to the little guy, it is a blast. He looks forward to the road trip that usually involves some type of fast food, the tent set up, the fire and peeing in the woods. Honestly, the first thing he wants to do when we get to the campsite is pee in the woods. Every. Time.

One of our favorite spots to visit is Mount Rainier (https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm). In fact, it’s the first place we ever took the little guy camping. There are many different types of camp sites available and very diverse activity options.

This trip, we stayed at the very basic American Forks Campground in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest just east of the park and 40 miles west of Naches, WA. Without running water and onCastingly a vault toilet, this is a pretty primitive site.

The good news? Only 12 sites, everyone seemed to be tenting, plenty of space and lots of access to the wonderful things around the area, including swimming at Bumping Lake and trout fishing on the American River. Little caught a small cutthroat on his second cast. GarlicBread

Wherever we are camping, we like to make a wonderful feast and plan accordingly with friends. This trip, we all brought ingredients to create a spaghetti feast, complete with meatballs (little’s favorite), salad and garlic bread roasted Munchkinover the fire. I’ll admit it, sometimes I do go overboard with the camp cooking but sometimes simple like this is just perfect and satisfying. We always try to be sure to cook some components in the fire – heating tortillas, potatoes, even dutch oven lasagnas.

Our wonderful camping buddies brought Munchkin, which the munchkin enjoyed playing. Don’t forget the lanterns so you can play cards or games at night, before turning them off to admire the stars. Where are your favorite spots to camp with kids within a couple hours of the city?