While my decision to get off the PCT after Indian Heaven Wilderness was a smart one, I was already making plans of when and where to get right back on it. My initial plans for hiking the south half of Washington involved a zero day with my husband at White River Campground in Mount Rainier National Park. Consequently, Dan had already booked a few days off work.
Once back home I pored over my guide book and set my plans. We would still go to Rainier and spend a couple nights in White River Campground and then I’d start back on the PCT heading north from White Pass, the next road crossing north of Goat Rocks Wilderness.
But first, Rainier!
We had last visited Mount Rainier National Park on Labor Day last fall. We had planned to backpack the north loop, but because of challenging weather had ended up car camping and day hiking instead. You can read about those adventures HERE.
We were blessed with incredible weather for this trip, and so decided to revisit a couple of the trails we’d previously hiked.
After arriving and setting up camp we headed off for a short wander to the Emmons Moraine Trail. The trail is a 3 mile out-and-back that starts right at White River Campground. After about half an hour of gradual climb through the forest, you cross a fork of the White River and switchback up to the crest of a glacial moraine left by the Emmons Glacier. The trail then follows the moraine for about half a mile, presenting awesome views of the White River, the Emmons Glacier and of course Mount Rainier.
For our second day around Rainier we drove up to Sunrise, the highest area of the park that can be reached by vehicle.
We were there nice and early, giving us a bit of a quieter trail experience. We connected a number of trails in the area to form a hiking loop for ourselves.
From the visitor centre, we headed up the hill to the Sourdough Ridge Trail, which has great views north to the Cascade mountains. We followed the trail westward to reach Frozen Lake, which still had a bit of snow around it. The trail reached a junction and we headed right, climbing up and along another ridge to Fremont Lookout.
Fremont Lookout is an original fire lookout structure built to survey the greater part of the north side of Rainier and help protect the area from fires. It’s set up inside with historical fixtures. Unfortunately, we were too smitten by the amazing view of Rainier to take any pictures of the lookout itself!
After a rest and snack at Fremont Lookout, we headed back to the main junction of trails and out onto Burroughs Mountain. This loop trail climbs up the side of Burroughs Mountain to its flat summit before dropping down the other side to a Sunrise Lookout and then down into the meadows below Sunrise and eventually back to the parking lot.
All in we hiked about 7.5 miles of trail in the Sunrise area. The weather was picture perfect and we were so glad we took the extra time to enjoy the national park before getting back onto the PCT.