Decided to hit up the Skyline Loop trail up at Paradise. Has been a trail we have wanted to check out for sometime now. We went up just at sunrise on a Wednesday morning. Our goal was to beat the crowds and the heat. Was suppose to hit 90* this day. And nobody likes hiking in the dead of the day in the heat.
We got on the trail at about 6am. We were all alone. Nobody around. Just what I wanted. The weather was cool, kind of crisp. A taste of fall was in the air. The leaves on the plants dewy from the fog of the night before. The hike is pretty easy. We started out of Paradise the right side of the loop trail, I guess you could also consider it the middle. There are so many trails up there it can get confusing if you aren’t up there hiking all the time or if you have difficulty with mapping.
Anyways, we started our way up. Past Mertle Falls creek. The trail is still paved up to this point. After the bridge it turns to dirt and you start the gradual climb. After the log bridge if you are there early enough you are greeted with MANY marmots. Hundreds of them. Some are friendly, some are more standoffish. Some like to talk. (whistle) My husband had fun whistling back and fourth with them. Sure are fun creatures to watch. They love to forage the flowery fields looking for seeds and flowers. They especially seem to love eating the Indian Paint Brush flowers.
Continuing onward and upward. We continued on and the trail turned into a series of switchbacks. Maybe 4-6. Not to many. Wasn’t too difficult. By the time we made it to the top we could see as far as the eye could see. Was a real treat, we were able to see Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helen’s and Mt. Hood. The views were never ending. Still a little ways to go up, we continued on. Here the trail got a little harder to follow. We had to do some scrambling up a rock field to get back on track with the trail. At this point the views of Mount Rainier were absolutely breath taking. It was HUGE. I have never seen the mountain out so close and clear. Was absolutely a memorable hike to say the least.
We got to Panorama Point, still had the mountain to ourselves. And decided to take a water break. Took our packs off and found a rock to rest on. Our packs didn’t hit the ground and we were greeted with the nicest little chipmunk. She seemed hungry, looking for an easy handout. But we had no food, not that we would had given her any anyways. But she was determined to check all of us out to see if we had anything yummy to offer. She especially took to Madison. I think because she had food on the ride up to the mountain and may of still smelled of something. The little creature sure climbed all over her and her things. Was the cutest thing.
After our break and mingling with our new mountain friend we decided to start our decent back down to the truck. From the point we took our break we could see the lodge at Paradise and Andy claimed he could see the truck. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to have such great eyesight. But we started our hike back down. We weren’t back on the trail for ten minutes and Madison pointed out a mountain goat. She said, she thought it was a white horse at first and had to remember where we were and realized what she was seeing. The girls had never seen a goat in the wild up to this point. And we as a whole have never seen one on this side of the mountain before. So that was a treat.
As we continued down that is when the large amounts of people started showing up. And I mean a lot. I told Andy so many times on our decent that I was so happy that we had started our hike so early. I was so happy to have the mountain to ourselves. Made it that much more fun. Haha, I have issues sharing sometimes. We probably past 50 groups as we were coming down. They all made remarks like, “You got an early start” or “Did you make it to the top already?” Sure did… We know to come early if we want a decent parking spot and if we want some peace.
Was a wonderful hike. Plan on doing it again in the future. We had two of our daughters with us. Was a pretty easy hike. Nothing too difficult. Yes its an incline, but the views are definitely worth it. The scramble through the rocks was the only questionable spot, kids didn’t complain and seemed to enjoy themselves. They loved all the animals. Mostly the friendly chipmunk and seeing the goat who was pretty close but really didn’t seem to mind us being there.