John Guilford's Hikes
Panorama Point - Skyline Trail, Paradise, Mt. Rainier N.P. on 1995-07-25
Location: Panorama Point - Skyline Trail, Paradise, Mt. Rainier N.P.
People: (including myself): Pam
My Alt. Real Alt.
Start: 4:55 5420 5400
Alta Vista: 5:10 5760
Panorama Point: 6:15 6740 6800
Glacier Vista: 7:00 6380 6300
Down: 7:45 5480
The Skyline Trail system leads through meadows above Paradise. Due to
meadow damage (see comments on Dege Peak hike) the park restricts hikers to
the established trails.
The day was partly sunny, but Mt. Rainier had low clouds around it so that
there wasn't really any view of the mountain. We did get intermittent
views of the Nisqually Glacier during the hike, but the upper part was
always covered by clouds.
Originally we had planned to hike on the east side of the meadows (Paradise
Glacier Trail), but we found that all those trails were closed off. We
tried to find a ranger to find out the story, but never did. Instead, we
ended up taking the Skyline trail up to Paradise Point. I thought that
maybe we could continue the loop of the Skyline trail to get access to the
east part of the meadow, but the trail was closed beyond Panorama Point.
This is the trail used to get to Camp Muir and we saw numerous
climbers/guides coming down the trail (from their early morning summitting,
I imagine) as we went up.
The lower parts of the trail are paved and are at times quite steep. I
shudder to think about carrying a heavy pack up certain sections of the
trail, but I m sure it is fine if you go slowly (if you couldn't hack that
part of the trail, you certainly wouldn't be able to make it to the
summit!). We took the side trail towards Alta Vista, choosing, however, to
bypass the Alta Vista summit and instead rejoined the Skyline trail.
Shortly above here we saw our first of many marmots. The upper meadows
were full of the fuzzy rodents, though none of them were as playfull as the
ones we'd seen in the Olympic National Park (to Pam's disappointment). To
me, these marmots looked like typical marmots, sitting on rocks or foraging
for food. Perhaps with the shorter season, these marmots were too busy
getting food to be terribly playful.
Above Alta Vista the trail ceases being paved, but is instead bordered by
rocks, with larger rocks forming pseudo-stairs in places.
At times we could see trails off to the east or things that looked like
partial trails. We later discovered that some of these (which appeared to
be almost paved) were restoration work (on older trails?). The process was
that they'd lay down dirt, if needed, then place seeds (of the native
plants), a layer of mulch formed from thin slivers of Alder, with a
photo-degradable netting over the top to hold it in place. From a distance
this appeared as a light brown or tan surfaced path.
Near Glacier Vista (which we didn't stop at going up, but did stop at
coming down) we started getting patches of snow. At the top end of the
meadows is a promontory and I figured that Panorama Point must be on the
top of that. I was close - it was a bit above there. The trail approaches
the promontory on the left and became solid snow. The trail was easy to
follow as it was well used, though I wished I had my ice axe just for
balance and to help me get my footing. The trail climbs the promontory and
then the cut off for Camp Muir passes on the left. A short hike later one
arrives at Panorama Point (which has a chemical toilet installed nearby).
Near there there is an old stone shelter (now minus its roof) which seems
to be used as a place to store the chemicals for the toilet.
One gets good views down to the visitor center, down the Nisqually river
valley and to points SW to SE. We did get views of Mt. Adams (which was
obscurred by clouds on the way up, but broke out on our way down), but we
never did get to see Mt. St. Helens. It was cloudy and hazy down that way
and although I saw something that I thought might be its crater, it was
very indistinct and Pam didn't agree. I didn't care enough to pull out a
compass and verify it.
By the hike back down, it was getting a bit cool with the day progressing,
the lack of sun, and the wind coming off the snow. On the way down we saw
numerous marmots as well as a couple deer, but the deer didn't let us get
close at all.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015