The route to Paradise Glacier follows the Skyline Trail counterclockwise from the trailhead. At the Stevens/Van Trump Memorial the Paradise Glacier Trail begins and leads eastward to the foot of the glacier. This trail was once very popular when huge ice caves marked the glaciers end. These caves have since melted and therefore the trail is less popular. The total elevation gain of this route is 1,100 feet.
Begin this hike on the western side of the Paradise Ranger Station on the stone steps. Follow the paved path of the Skyline Trail to the right, rounding a corner and entering the Edith Creek Basin. Within a half mile of the trailhead is the spur trail leading to Myrtle Falls on the right. A short distance beyond this trail the main route crosses Edith Creek and continues climbing steadily.
Shortly beyond the Edith Creek crossing is a fork in the trail. The left side of the fork is the Golden Gate Trail, which parallels Edith Creek. The right side follows the Skyline Trail to the Stevens/Van Trump Memorial. It is approximately one and a half miles to Paradise Glacier Trail from this fork.
The Skyline Trail leads through the upper Paradise River Basin crossing two more creeks before reaching the summit of Mazama Ridge. A mile and a half into the hike you'll reach the junction of the Lakes Trail on the crest of the ridge at 5,800 feet. From this junction follow the Skyline Trail to the left as it turns northward and continues to climb steadily.
Within a half mile of the Lakes Trail junction you'll reach the Stevens/Van Trump Memorial. This marker memorializes the first ascent attempt of Mount Rainier by European descendants. According to local rumor Hazard Stevens and P.B. Van Trump camped at the site of the stone bench before making the summit attempt. The Paradise Trail begins from this point leading east. Be sure to enjoy the view of the Tatoosh Range southward across the Paradise River Valley.
As the Paradise Glacier Trail leads eastward it contours around an old moraine ascending gradually. Expect to cross snow fields along this route on which hiking boots are recommended. The trail ends one mile from the Stevens/Van Trump Memorial at an elevation of 6,400 feet. Rock cairns guide hikers along the portion of the route that crosses the snow fields.
Hikers can take an alternate route back to the Paradise Ranger Station. From the memorial bench turn right and hike northward along Skyline Trail. The route ascends 400 feet in the next half mile to a junction with the Golden Gate Trail. Turn left on this trail and begin the descent into the Paradise area. The Golden Gate Trail descends 880 feet along Edith Creek to the trail junction near Myrtle Falls. Stay to the right at this junction to reach the trailhead.
Directions: From Nisqually Entrance, Drive east along the Longmire - Paradise Road 16 miles to a fork in the road. Bear left and drive two miles toward the Paradise area. The trailhead is located to the left of the Ranger Station in the large parking lot.
Elevation: 5,420 feet
Ending Elevation: 6,400 feet
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