There are 8 active volcanoes in the cascade mountains, the most famous one probably Mount Saint Helens after it’s eruption in 1980.
The Tallest one is Mount Rainier with a height of 14,410 feet.
We were between Mt Rainier and Mt Saint Helens at a campground and decided to hike in Mt Rainier National Park with our kids (watch on YouTube).
We did climb up Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock in Arizona’s Red Rock Country and the children loved it as much as Andrea and I did.
There is a big difference in the climate between Arizona and Washington state. Arizona was dry, hot and dusty whereas Washington gets a lot of rain and the weather is more moderate. Obviously that has a huge impact on the vegetation. The Pacific North West is very mountainous with tall conifers.
We fell in love with northern Idaho and Washington is growing on us much the same.
Our ride to Mt Rainier National Park took a bit longer than an hour and we stopped along the way to get some snacks. We made sandwiches which we ate on the ride to the park.
At the entrance was quite a long line of cars. We have the “America the Beautiful” Pass and were able to skip much of it.
After getting through the gate we had to drive about 10 more miles to get to Paradise where you find the visitors center and the Paradise Inn.
We had looked the night before and knew which trails to hike. A ranger at the trail head gave us some more information and we were ready to start.
Unfortunately we could not take our oldest son, Noah, with us. He volunteered to stay behind with our dog as pets are not allowed on the trails.
Everybody else came with us. Andrea carried Bodhi pretty much all the way and I carried Romi. We started hiking the Alta Vista trail and were surprised how steep it was. This was hard especially with the kids on our shoulders. It felt like we were very out of shape
but this was also the steepest part of the hike.
Once we had reached the top of the trail which is only .6 miles long, we were rewarded with some spectacular views and a pretty good outlook of what was to come. There was the snow-covered top of Mt. Rainier at one end and smaller mountains all around us, rivers, waterfalls, trees and meadows with beautiful wild flowers. It was stunning.
We headed further uphill, now on the Skyline Loop Trail, which we followed until the end, toward Glacier Vista but the hike was much more comfortable from this point on.
Just before Glacier Vista we had reached the tree line. We also saw patches of snow for the first time. Of course the kids had to play on it, touch it and make snowballs. I am not sure when we saw snow for the last time. There were a few flurries before we left Virginia in December, so it must have been in the winter before. It was strange to see snow but we were wearing shorts and t-shirts. It just shows you how much snow there must have been.
The trails are open from June or July until October.
At Glacier Point you stand right by the mountain at the level where the snow starts. There were waterfalls and more beautiful views. The kids got a break, Pauline walked up until here and the rest of the way which impressed us a lot.
We did not expect that from our little five year old but it shows how resilient kids are.
We carried on uphill towards Panorama Point at an altitude of 6800 feet (almost 2000′ higher than Cathedral Rock). The trail was now rocky and dusty but the views all around werestunning. The weather was gorgeous and a few small clouds floated by the top of Rainier.
There is a platform at Panorama Point and you can see much of the Cascade mountain range. Mount Adams, Mount St Helens and Mt Hood are all visible from here along with other mountains.
The view down into the valley never ceased to amaze, always changing into another beautiful picture as we moved along.
The path kept on going uphill for a little longer and at we soon reached the crossing onto Golden Gate Trail which was a direct line back to the parking lot. But we were not ready to head back yet. so we decided to stay on Skyline Loop. The kids enjoyed more patches of snow along the way.
Once we reached the tree line again we found more streams, waterfalls, green meadows, pretty wild flowers and even saw groundhogs and chipmunks.
There only seemed to be green from the trees and and the blue of the sky sprinkled with the colors of the wild flowers.
When we were within a mile to the visitors center we found blueberries. That obviously added some more time to our trip. How could you pass up something as delicious as wild blueberries and there were plenty and they were delicious.
Sluiskin Falls is another place of interest. You walk over a bridge and have the opportunity to walk down steps in oreder to get right in front of it with Mt Rainier as a backdrop. A perfect opportunity to take some more photographs.
After that we found a bunch more blueberries and had a groundhog walk the opposite direction on the same path we were taking. It took him some time to build up the guts to walk past us but he needed to get to the
other side of us to get some of the blueberries.
The trail ended by the Paradise Inn. From there we had about 10 more minutes to walk to the car.
In the parking lot we saw a couple of hikers who were preparing to go to the top at night. We were a bit confused at first as to why they would go at night but they explained that it was safer as the snow and ice get soft and unsafe during the warm weather. It was only the two and they did not have a guide so they decided to walk at night.
We started our hike at around 1pm and got back to the car a little before 8pm. We had a lot of brakes and walked a slow pace because of the little ones but we were amazed at Pauline as she walked the whole 5.5 miles although it
seemed a little longer than that.
This hike was something we will remember for the rest of our lives. As we will remember Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. Thee constant beauty of nature, the sight of the mountain, the snow the flowers and animals will
always be in our mind. We love that we did it with our children as they hopefully have another beautiful of our trip through the United States.