Mt. Rainier National Park 2013 Sunrise Side: Camping at Silver Springs Campground, hiking Naches Peak
After our first trip to Mt. Rainier National Park blew our minds with it’s beauty, we thought we’d visit the Sunrise side of the park in the Northeast. The Sunrise side is less visited than the Paradise Side, which we were excited about. We always like to go where there are less tourists.
We made a reservation at the Silver Springs Campground through the Recreation.gov website, and were lucky enough to snag a spot on the White River. It was a little dry since it was August, but still a nice view and came with ambient creek noises.
Traffic through Seattle to Enumclaw on a Friday afternoon was brutal, and we arrived starving and cranky. We quickly set up camp and started a campfire. We had an easy meal planned: our traditional first night camping meal of hot dogs and baked beans.
After bug spray was applied, camp was set up, and we had some food and wine, we felt much better. We relaxed around the campfire and enjoyed the sound of the river.
Our main plan for the day was a good hike. I consulted our Best Easy Day Hikes: Mt. Rainier National Park book and decided on a 5 mile loop trail around Naches Peak. It promised stunning views of Mt. Rainier and seemed to be about our fitness level.
We got up at about 8:00 AM. We quickly got dressed, slathered on sunscreen, ate some granola and got going. Naches Peak Trailhead is about a 20-30 minute drive south on Highway 410 from Silver Springs Campground. It is also technically outside Mt. Rainier National Park, so you don’t have to go into the visitor’s center and pay the fee. It’s good that we got there when we did, we snagged the last parking spot in the lot.
Most people hike the trail starting out to the left, as you see Mt. Rainier as you walk forward and descend back down the other side of the peak. I read a review online that suggested going the other direction to the right, because you get all your elevation gain out of the way pretty quickly, and a view is a view, regardless of which way you’re going. We opted to hike the trail backwards and I’m glad we did.
We started out passing Tipsoo Lake, and ascended up a rocky trail through the forest. A little ways in we could see Mt. Rainier in the distance through the trees. I don’t know if I’ll ever get sick of looking at that mountain.
The hike was pretty tiring in the first mile, and I had to stop and catch my breath several times. Finally, we reached the top and the views were definitely worth it.
We stopped for a bit to enjoy it, and then continued on up around another small rocky point which was a popular place to picnic and enjoy a view. We had lunch with us but weren’t ready to eat yet.
After that, the rest of the trail was all downhill and Mt. Rainier was no longer in view except a little bit towards the end. The views of the valley, with wild flowers and ponds were still amazing.
When we arrived back at the parking lot, we were beat. All the picnic tables were full of families eating lunch, so we just sat down on the ground next to our truck and had lunch. We were thankful for the cold Gatorade in our cooler. Sometimes, water just doesn’t re-hydrate like Gatorade.
After we ate, we headed back to camp. Our parking space was quickly taken by a waiting vehicle. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and reading books back at camp.
For dinner we chopped up some carrots, potatoes, onions, and zucchini and combined it with some chicken breasts, cream of mushroom soup, and spices and put it in some foil packets. We cooked them in the campfire and they were delicious. I don’t know what it is about campfire cooking that just makes simple food taste so much better. Maybe it’s just the warm hot meal in the woods thing. I don’t know.
The next day we packed up camp and headed back to Seattle. I have to say, the Naches Peak trail was one of the best We’ve ever been on in Washington and I would highly recommend it. Our book has so many cool hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park, I think we’ll be doing another one or two of them this summer. It really is a beautiful place to visit and we feel very lucky to live so close by that we can easily visit for a weekend.