This trail begins west of the Paradise Ranger Station and climbs the southern flanks of Mt. Rainier below the Nisqually Glacier. It forms a loop that gains 1,400 feet to Panoramic Point then descends into the Paradise Valley. The total mileage for this loop is five miles, taking approximately four hours to complete.
Begin this loop from the stone steps by the Paradise Inn. (There are a number of intersections at the beginning of this trail and periodically along the route. All of these are signed or otherwise clearly marked.) Bear left at the trailhead following the trail clockwise in order to get the best views of Mt. Rainier.
The route climbs steeply for the first mile to a junction with the Glacier Vista Trail. This trail makes a semi circle beginning and ending on the Skyline Trail. Follow this spur trail to the left for views of the Nisqually Glacier and an explanation of glaciation on an interpretive panel. The main trail continues to climb up the mountain using switchbacks for another mile to the spur trail to Panoramic Point. This is the Low Skyline Trail. Panoramic Point provides visitors with a view of the volcanic mountains to the south, as well as the Tatoosh Range.
Hikers who bear left at this junction will continue along the Skyline Trail. The ascent continues another half mile to the high point of the trail, 6,980 feet, and the junction with Pebble Creek Trail. Along this portion of the track the views of Mt. Rainier are astounding. Following Pebble Creek Trail to the left will bring you to the base of the Muir snow field. Bear right at this junction to continue along the Skyline Trail. Within a short distance the spur trail from Panorama Point joins the main trail from the south.
The descent begins shortly after the Low Skyline Trail joins the main trail. Switchbacks aid in lessening the grade of the next mile as the trail descends into the Paradise River Valley. Snow fields line the trail as it leads southward away from the summit of Mt. Rainier. One mile from the Pebble Creek Trail our tread intersects the Golden Gate Trail. Hikers who turn right at this junction will return to the Paradise Ranger Station in two miles.
Hikers who follow the left side of the fork will reach the memorial for P.B. Van Trump and Hazard Stevens' first ascent of Mt. Rainier within one mile. At this memorial is an excellent view point of the Tatoosh Mountains and a trail leading north to the Paradise Glacier. Take the right side of the fork, southward to continue along Skyline Trail. The route continues to descend then turns westward where it splits again. At this split the trail to the left is the Lakes Trail. Beyond this fork Skyline Trail descends along a series of switchbacks after which it turns northward. Leading to the north for a quarter-mile the trail turns toward the west and crosses two tributaries to the Paradise River. At the third stream crossing is Myrtle Falls and a junction with the Golden Gate Trail. From this point it is less than a half mile, along a paved trail, to 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: 5,420 feet
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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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