The weather in Washington has been a quite unpredictable lately. Normally fall is cooler temps but little rain. Instead we have been having cooler temps and lots of rain or snow which has made it feel more like winter when hiking. Saturday looked like we had a little window of good weather around Mt. Rainier so we decided to head down to Tolmie Peak Lookout. It is a shorter hike at just 7.5 miles roundtrip and only 1,100 mile elevation gain. It is generally a really nice trail that goes through multiple different scenery options. The downside of this trail is the road to get there. It is about 12 miles of unmaintained dirt road, which translates to large potholes everywhere! Like you will need a new suspension when you finish driving on this section of the road. It is the most uncomfortable ride! I even drive a Jeep Wrangler and you are bouncing all over. It makes me cringe watching small cars try and drive on this road.
We arrived to a 3/4 full parking lot with some people choosing to part on the roadway to skip part of the trail. We started at the trail beginning as this section of the trail walks right next to Mowich Lake which is very pretty! We were greeted with clear, blue skies which made the entire hike beautiful! After the lake the trail winds through the forest where you have several elevation gains and losses. Once you exit the forest, you enter a short meadow which follows a smaller lake. The meadow was filled with fall colors. From this point you can see the lookout up on a rock ridge. Although it looks so far away, from this point is is actually only .9 miles to the top and it goes by quickly!
The trail up to the Ridgeline offers spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. Living in Washington you never get tired of looking at her. She is spectacular! There are multiple entrances to Mt. Rainier National Park so depending on which trail you take you get a different side and view of Mt. Rainier.
The lookout was busy, but we were able to find a spot to sit and eat lunch. There are a number of grey jays flying around and they were quite noisy! Acting like their usual selves they were taking any opportunity they could to steal your lunch!
The one negative I would say about the hike was the sheer number of people on this trail. It was just a train of people. Many who are clearly not regular hikers. They were cutting through switchbacks and walking in large groups (I mean 20 or so people) and completely congesting the trail so no one could walk by. Not willing to move over it created some problems along the trail. We need to be better about educating people on trail etiquette.
The road is scheduled to close for the winter Sunday (today) so we picked the perfect day to close out the Tolmie Peak Lookout season!