This late in the year it’s always a surprise when the sun actually makes an appearance. With great weather reports and promises of clear skies, I set out to hike Tolmie Peak Lookout, one of the few trails in Mount Rainier National Park that are within about two hours of home and unhiked by yours truly.
I was pretty sure I was lost when I drove through a bunch of clear-cut wasteland, but sure enough I ended up at the trail head. I can’t imagine trying to park here on a busy summer weekend. There’s no real parking lot to speak of at the trail head, so the handful of cars there were stacked up on the side of the road. Score one for weekday, off-season trips.
The trail starts at Mowich Lake, which reflects a chunk of Rainier in its cerulean water. The sun’s angle was just right to set the lake in fantastic light, captured in the photo above. The trail also stays fairly flat before a quick climb up to the fire lookout perched on Tolmie Peak, staring right in the face of Rainier. The fall colors creeping into the valleys made the entire panorama even more stunning. It’s absolutely worth a trip.