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Hiking Mt. Rainier Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground (Mt. Rainier National Park) – 9/21/2019

We spent most of the Summer doing day hikes from home so that we could be back in time to give our elderly cats their daily medicines which put a limit on how far away we could go, but we had purchased tickets to the Seattle Seahawks/New Orleans Saints game prior to Buddy getting ill so my parents graciously took over for a day. We took the opportunity to drive up the day before the game and stop for a hike in Mt. Rainier National Park.

This would be our second visit to the park having hiked the Northern Loop on a 4-day backpack in 2015 (post). For this visit we were looking for something on the SW side of the mountain that would be a good late Summer/early Fall hike. A little research led us to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground from Longmire.

We arrived at Longmire just after 8am and prepared to set off on the Trail of Shadows.
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Our trail was located across the park entrance road from the National Park Inn.
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Also across the road was the shear cliffs of Rampart Ridge and the snow capped summit of Mt. Rainier.
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We were excited to see the mountain as it had been raining for several days and more rain was forecast for the next few, but a partly sunny forecast had at least given us some hope.
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The Trail of Shadows is a .7 mile interpretative loop around Longmire Meadow. We followed this trail clockwise for a quarter mile where we arrived at a junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail.
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We turned left on the Rampart Ridge Trail which promptly began climbing via a series of switchbacks to the top of the ridge. The trail climbed through an old growth forest with lots of mushrooms this time of year and a bit of fall color showing on the maples.
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The trail gained the ridge after a little under 1.5 miles and began to follow it to the NE. One and three quarters of a mile from the junction we forked right to a signed viewpoint overlooking Longmire.
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The position of the Sun wasn’t ideal, even with some clouds around, but Eagle Peak was also visible (albeit through some trees) rising above Longmire.
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Less then a quarter mile from the viewpoint we came to a turn where the trail began to descend, but before we started down we followed a short path to a rocky viewpoint where we got a better look at Mt. Rainier.
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Mt. Rainier was the main attraction but to the NW behind the clouds was another interesting and colorful peak, Mt. Wow.
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We spent quite a while at the viewpoint before starting down on the Rampart Ridge Trail which we found turned back toward the mountain and provided another spectacular view.
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We were soon back in the mushroom filled forest grateful for having gotten such a nice view of the mountain already. We figured if the clouds moved in, at least we’d gotten to see that .
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After 2.9 miles on the Rampart Ridge Trail we came to a signed junction with the Wonderland Trail.
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Here we turned left following the pointer for Indian Henry’s (Hunting Ground)
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We had gained over 1400′ climbing up to Rampart Ridge and now we began to lose 400 of those feet as the Wonderland Trail dropped to Kautz Creek in 3/4 of a mile. Mushrooms remained a main theme of the hike as we descended through more green forest.
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As we neared Kautz Creek the mountain once again came into view.
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We dropped into the washed out canyon of Kautz Creek where, you guessed it, there were some more interesting mushrooms amid the rubble.
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IMG_9731Satuick Mountain

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The crossing of Kautz Creek was fairly easy as far as glacier fed streams go. The creek was split into three channels which were small enough to rock hop across dry footed.
IMG_9735First crossing

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IMG_9737The third channel was the largest but still relatively small.

IMG_9740Mt. Rainier from the far side of Kautz Creek.

The trail then reentered the forest and shortly arrived at Pyramid Camp.
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IMG_9746Yet another big mushroom.

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After a brief stint in the trees we emerged at another washed out creek bed. According to the map this was Pearl Creek (which later becomes Pyramid Creek after merging with a couple of other streams).
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This creek would have been a little trickier to cross had it not been for the presence of a pair of footbridges.
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After crossing the creek we popped back into the forest and almost immediately came to a clear spring.
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Beyond the spring the trail began to climb steeply gaining over 400′ in a half mile before becoming a bit more gradual as it traversed up the hillside crossing a few creek beds along the way.
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IMG_9763There were quite a few coral fungi present as well.

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IMG_9769The mushrooms in the back had exploded.

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IMG_9774A few red huckleberries left to eat.

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Approximately one and three quarters of a mile from the Pearl Creek crossing we arrived at Devil’s Dream Creek.
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This creek flowed through a narrow slot canyon that looked (and sounded) really interesting.
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Although the trail briefly climbed uphill along side the canyon there were no views to speak of save one look down to the water below. From that spot it sounded like there was some sort of waterfall just upstream but there was no angle available to see anything so we settled for more colorful mushrooms.
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A half mile after crossing Devil’s Dream Creek we did spot a waterfall downhill to the right of the trail just before arriving at Devil’s Dream Camp. A path led down to the creek here. There wasn’t a lot of water flowing but it looked like it might be a pretty good waterfall when there was more flow.
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After the side trip we passed through the 8-site Devil’s Dream Camp.
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It was uphill through the camp but not longer after passing the group site the trail leveled out a bit and entered the first meadow as we neared Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.
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A larger meadow followed with a view of Mt. Rainier hiding behind Iron Mountain.
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IMG_9825Gentians

IMG_9826Mushrooms in the meadow.

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IMG_9828Gray jay in the huckleberries.

A quarter mile from the camp we arrived at Squaw Lake.
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We crossed Devil’s Dream Creek again as we passed around the lake.
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I don’t know where the actual boundary of the hunting ground is but beyond Squaw Lake the meadows kept opening up more as we neared a backcountry patrol cabin.
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Finally Mt. Rainier came back into view.
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We spotted the patrol cabin approximately 8 miles (according to my GPS) into the hike. The cabin was set back in some trees overlooking the meadow with Mt. Rainier in the background. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque setting.
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We had been playing leap frog with another pair of day hikers who had planned on turning back at the cabin. We had also considered that given the distance and elevation gain to get there, but the mountain was so visible we decided to push on to Mirror Lakes which was just under a mile away. From a junction with the Kautz Creek Trail near the cabin we followed a pointer for the Mirror Lakes Trail .3 miles down the Wonderland Trail.
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The Wonderland Trail lost a little elevation before arriving at the Mirror Lakes Trail junction. Views of Mt. Rainier were plentiful along the .3 mile stretch.
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We turned onto the Mirror Lakes Trail which was pretty wet in spots from the recent rains, as were the meadows alongside the trail.
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There were a number of frogs in the meadow and they seemed to be enjoying the extra water.
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Most of the flowers were long since past but a few stragglers were hanging on.
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IMG_9920Butterfly on the remains of an aster.

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While the Summer flowers were mostly gone the nearby hillsides were heralding the arrival of Fall.
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We were glad that we’d decided to go on even before reaching the Mirror Lakes as the trail just kept getting us closer views of Mt. Rainier.
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IMG_9931Pyramid Peak to the right.

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The best was yet to come though. The largest (and first) of the little lakes that make up the Mirror Lakes had a perfect reflection of the still mostly cloud free mountain.
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We lingered for awhile studying the mountains various features.
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We would have loved to have stuck around longer but we still had a long hike back to Longmire and a 2 hour drive to our motel so we pulled ourselves away and started back. In the time it took to reach the patrol cabin the clouds had increased noticably.
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The shift in the clouds did reveal more of Emerald Ridge to the north which had some interesting features.
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We returned the way we’d come until arriving at the Wonderland Trail/Rampart Ridge Trail junction. This portion of the hike saw us spotting additional mushrooms that we hadn’t noticed earlier and a few more frogs, including one at the spring near Pearl Creek.
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IMG_9987This guy was tiny.

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IMG_9995Frog on a rock at the spring.

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The clouds had really moved in by the time we were crossing Kautz Creek and Mt. Rainier was gone.
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From the Wonderland/Rampart Ridge junction we stayed straight on the Wonderland Trail which, in addtion to being new trail, was at least a mile shorter route back to Longmire.
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The trail lost elevation pretty quickly and was fairly steep in places. The mushroom theme continued here as well.
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The trail did level out some as it passed below Rampart Ridges cliffs and over a swale on a boardwalk.
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We crossed the Paradise Road and soon after turned at a pointer for Longmire.
IMG_0044Looking back across the road.

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Our feet were sore and our knees tired but the 16.4 miles had been more than worth it. As we were loading up the car a gentleman asked if we would give him a ride out of the park. He had been on the Wonderland Trail but after 5 days of rain everything was wet and he hadn’t been able to cook some of his food so he was living to fight another day. His car was at Mowhich Lake though so we gave him a lift to Ashford and dropped him off at a motel/restaurant there before heading toward Seattle.

It was a great start to the weekend, if only Seattle’s play had been half as impressive as Mt. Rainier was maybe they could have pulled out a win. Ah well, we will take a beautiful hike over a single W any time. Happy Trails! (and GO Hawks!)

Flickr: Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground

Categories
Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2015 – A Look Back

Another year of wandering the trails of the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. Since 2010 we have been on over 200 hikes covering over 2200 miles and we continually find ourselves in awe of God’s creation.

We managed to hit the trails at least once every month ending with 56 hikes for myself and 55 for Heather. I was able to sneak an extra one in by meeting my parents at Columbia Hills State Park in April while Heather was still running. These were the most hikes we’d done in a single year which also led to our highest mileage totals – 660.4 for myself and 652.6 for Heather. The hikes ranged from 2.9 miles (Butte Creek & Abiqua Falls) to 19.1 miles (Green Lakes Loop). Below is a link to a Google map showing the various trailheads and campsites (denoted by picnic tables).
2015

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zIiZZDXeDJAs.kn3sBy2gxhI8&usp=sharing

In addition to my Columbia State park hike we met my parents for hikes at McNeil Point and Jefferson Park. We also met a couple of regular contributors to Oregonhikers.org out on the trails, miah66 on Silver Star Mountain and justpeachy in Jefferson Park. In December we attended the Trail Keepers of Oregon/Oregon Hikers annual Winter Meet-n-Deet in Portland where we were able to put a few more faces to the names we’ve gotten to know on the hiking forums.  It was a blast and we’re hoping to continue attending the event in future years.

As in previous years our primary focus was to visit new places and spend time on trails we had not previously hiked.  We continued to expand the area in which we’ve hiked by spending 4 days hiking the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park and spending some time hiking in California around Crescent City and in the Red Buttes Wilderness.  Other areas which were brand new to us included the area around Ashland, OR, Indian Heaven Wilderness, and The Oregon caves National Monument.  In all 43 of our 56 days of hiking were spent on sections of trails we had never been on before. The remaining 13 days were spent on trails that we had visited in prior years, but we managed to do something different this time around on each trip allowing us to see something new every time out.

This year just reinforced what has become one of our favorite aspects of hiking, the variety.  In visiting so many new trails we were able to see flowers, trees, animals, and even mountains that we had not previously encountered on our hikes.  Even in the familiar areas there always seems to be something new to experience.  It’s not just the sights that provide the variety though, the smells, sounds, and even the feeling of the air and the forest can change multiple times on any given hike.

Although the camera cannot adequately capture the beauty of nature a look back at some of this year’s pictures will hopefully give some indication of the many different sights we were blessed with.

Views:
Oregon Dunes Overlook
View from Oregon Dunes day use area

Rowena Crest
Rowena Crest from the Tom McCall Point trail.

Mt. Hebo Trail
Sunlight penetrating the clouds in the Siuslaw National Forest

View from Boccard Point
Looking west from Boccard Point

French Pete Creek
French Pete Creek

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park from the summit above Burma Road

Mt. Hood from the McNeil Point Trail
McNeil Point Trail

Middle & South Sister from Eileen Lake
Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

Middle & South Sister from Linton Meadows
Middle and South Sister from Linton Meadows

Pacific Ocean from Salishan Spit
Low tide heading toward Salishan Spit

Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

Sluiskin Mountain
Sluiskin Mountain in the morning

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

Olallie Lake Scenic Area
View from Double Peaks

Indian Heaven Wilderness
Lemi Rock

Mt. Washington Wilderness
Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack from Belknap Crater

Belknap Crater
Belknap Crater

South Sister from the Green Lakes
South Sister from the first Green Lake

South Sister from Denude Lake
South Sister from Denude Lake

Wind and Dog Mountain from Indian Point
Wind and Dog Mountains from Indian Point

Bull of the Woods Wilderness
Lake Lenore and Mt. Hood from Big Slide Mountain

Pacific Ocean near Damnation Creek
Sunsetting over the Pacific Ocean from the mouth of Damnation Creek

Redwoods in Jedediah Redwoods State Park
Redwoods along the Boy Scout Tree Trail

Red Buttes Wilderness
Red Buttes and Kangaroo Mountain

Kangaroo Mountain
Marble outcrop below Kangaroo Mountain

Paradise Lost, Oregon Caves National Monument
Looking up in the Paradise Lost room of the Oregon Cave

Waterfalls:

University Falls
University Falls

Lower Butte Creek Falls
Lower Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls

Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls Upper McCord Falls Upper McCord Falls

Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls Elowah Falls Elowah Falls

The Potholes
The Potholes Woodburn Falls Trillium at Woodburn Falls

Rodney Falls
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Lower Kentucky Falls
Lower Kentucky Falls North Fork Falls North Fork Falls

Munson Falls
Munson Falls

Unnamed waterfalls along Linton Creek Waterfalls along Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall along Linton Creek

Duncan Falls Duncan Falls

Upper Portion of Linton Falls
Upper portion of Upper Linton Falls

Some of Upper Linton Falls

Indian Holes Falls
Indian Holes Falls Unnamed waterfall – Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7614

Garda Falls
Garda Falls Another unnamed fall in Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7972

Van Horn Falls
Van Horn Falls

Waterfalls along Fall Creek IMG_9592

Fall Creek

Fall Creek

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Falls along Crater Creek
Falls along Crater Creek

Falls along Crater Creek

Waterfall on Crater Creek

Corner Falls Corner Falls

Fall River Falls
Fall River Falls

Waterfalls along Paulina Creek Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Falls on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

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Waterfall on Paulina Creek

McKay Falls

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek below Ten-mile snopark bridge

Wildlife
Mallard at Lacamas Lake

Bullfrogs in pond near Lacamas Lake

Turtles at Lacamas Lake

Greater Yellowlegs

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Douglas Squirrel

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Frog

Northern Pacific Treefrog

Western Bluebird

Wood duck

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Owl

Rabbit

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Green-tailed Towhee

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Hummingbird

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Butterfly along the Crooked River

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Butterfly along the Blair Lake Trail

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Butterfly along the Bluff Mountain Trail

Mountain Parnassian

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Deer visting a meadow behind our campsite

Small fish in a little stream near Linton Meadows

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Grasshopper invasion

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Harbor Seals

Seagull

Pika

Black Bear

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Mountain Goats on Burroughs Mountain

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Chipmunk enjoying a berry

Deer in the meadow below Yellowstone Cliffs

Lounging marmot

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Rough Skinned Newt

Sea Lions

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Cormorant

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Anenomes

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Ouzel

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Great Blue Heron

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Buck

Last butterfly of the year

Hawk

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Barred Owl

Americn Kestrel

Acorn Woodpecker

Wildflowers
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Bachelor Button

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California Poppy

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Columbine

Wild Iris

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Henderson's Stars

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Elegant Brodiaea

Popcorn Flower

Common Madia

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mariposa lily

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Scarlet gilia

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Monument Plant aka Elkweed

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Striped Coralroot

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smoothstem blazing-star Mentzelia laevicaulis

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Bog Orchid and Elephants Head

Tiger Lily

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Beargrass Meadow

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Orange Agoseris

Elegant Brodiaea

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Cat's ear lily

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Aster

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We are already looking forward to next year’s hikes. I freely admit that I already have a preliminary schedule laid out (I will not admit to how far out it extends though 😉 ).  As it currently stands we will be visiting 6 new wilderness areas, another national monument, and summiting three peaks over 9000′ tall.  If history is any guide the list of completed hikes at this time next year will look vastly different from this preliminary one, but then that’s just part of the adventure.  One thing is for sure though, we are sure to see some amazing sights along whatever trails we wander.  Happy Trails!