Palisades Lake is one of the “no mountain” hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, which often translates to having less people on the hikes. (That meaning no views of the mountain once you get going. The last view of the mountain is as you dip down to the first lake.)
It also sports a few geological annoyances to casual hikers who want an easy shorter hike, and this hike presents a ridge you must climb twice, as well as a climb at the end.
It’s a great hike though, with multiple lakes and subalpine meadows.
The trail starts at Sunrise Point, the final switchback on the Sunrise Road. Cross the road to find the trailhead, but look over the edge first, to see Sunrise Lake below.
The trail starts on the ridge and quickly switches once down the hill side for .5 mile, looking at Dege Peak in the distance, on Sourdough Ridge. There is a short social trail to Sunrise Lake, otherwise stay on the main trail.
The trail winds through open forest and meadowy areas, till you come to Clover Lake, a pleasant large lake that makes a great snack spot, or even as a turn around for an easy hike. It is 1.5 miles to Clover Lake.
The trail winds around the lake and then heads uphill to cross a ridge, and cuts across the side in forest, and drops down into a meadowy area. (It has seasonal streams and even a tucked away lake)
Then the trail starts gaining more elevation, into the woods and passes Tom, Dick and Harry Lakes. There is a backcounty camping area at Dick Lake.
Pass the turnoff for Hidden Lake at 2.5 miles in, which is an alpine lake tucked into the back of a mountain.
As the trail starts to pull up it enters meadows. While still gaining elevation a bit, it is so pretty you don’t notice.
Best to not question how that large boulder got there, from so far away.
At the top of the meadowy ridge Upper Palisades Lake appears. Depending on the year, and the snow pack is how high the lake will be. There is a backcounty camp here. A social trail winds down to the lake, walking around is easy to do.
It is 3.5 miles to the lake.
There is a fisherman path down to Lower Palisades Lake. Is it worth it? Maybe. I went down much of the way, it is a knee killer and well….the lake is forested down there. Has to be wether you are into that.
Just remember that you have to climb that ridge back up and over, so save some energy!