The seasonal display of wildflowers on Rainier is second to none. From mid to late summer the alpine climate warms, the ground thaws and the moist, fertile earth gives birth to meadows of colors. In early August Jaehee and I made a casual day trip to see the display for ourselves.
After a long wait to get into the park at the Longmire entrance and a long search for parking (for a while I thought the ratio of wildflowers to vehicles might be about 1:1), we set of from Paradise Inn. By far the largest number of hikers stayed on Skyline Trail. But we got the inside scoop from a ranger and followed Avalanche Lily Trail to Dead Horse Creek Trail to Skyline, and on up to Panorama Point. Dead Horse Creek probably refers to some sad event a century ago; though, it certainly doesn’t capture the essence of the trail as we saw it.
The insider tip served us well. While we strolled almost alone through incredibly colorful meadows, we could see in the distance masses of tourists plodding up Skyline with comparatively few flowers along the way. Actually, I’m sure they had a great hike too. But our way was better.
On the way up to Panorama Point we looked at wildflowers against the backdrop of Nisqually Glacier and Mt Rainier. On the way down we looked at wildflowers against the backdrop of the Tatoosh Range and Mt Adams. Despite the hike being less than six mile, it took half a day to complete. There was a whole lot of stopping and looking going on.