This hike is one of a kind. As in one of a kind of punishment. It’s worth it though. But it isn’t easy. If however you enjoy hiking uphill, up a 20% grade in hot airless forest for the first part to reach alpine bliss, you will love it. It is 5.5 miles to the junction with the Wonderland Trail and 3800 feet gain. It will make you question your love of hiking.
The trail starts on the road to Longmire, and requires two cars. Leave one at Longmire then backtrack a few miles to the large parking lot just after Kautz Creek. The trail heads off to the open creek bed, that has changed quite a bit in the past decades, then heads into the forest. The trail is brutal for a good 4 of the miles, climbing quickly up the ridge, with few views. But stick with it.
As you reach the summit ridge of Mount Ararat. Suddenly it is worth the hike, the views going as far as Mount Adams.
Ford leading me, as Tahoma comes into view.
The mountain coming into full view.
Entering the meadows of Indain Henry’s Hunting Grounds, as you drop down into it.
The ranger cabin calls to you.
Taking a break in the shade at the cabin.
The trail is now the Wonderland, which crosses the meadows before heading on.
After lunch, we headed down the side path Mirror Lakes.
Mirror Lakes are a couple small lakes/ponds that can have a wonderful reflection. It was used on a postage stamp long ago.
Now then….Pyramid Peak isn’t a place many go to, if they even know about it. To find it, just beyond Mirror Lakes is an “end of trail” sign that a couple thick evergreen trees sit behind. Let your feet do the walking. The trail is there. Walk through the trees and you won’t ever lose the trail, as it cuts across the ridge and up a bit. The trail comes to the top and below is your view:
We had a cross country permit for camping and found a place to call home for the night above the meadows. There is a small water source (which can dry up) at the low point. It had lots of bear prints in the mud. The trail up Pyramid continues on.
While my friend Drew and his buddy climbed Pyramid, Ford and I hung out in the meadows. We hiked around and found a side path to another water source, just downhill to the right of the photo.
That is Rainier in the background, from this vantage she looks nothing like it does normal.
The meadows were just magical and with so little water nearly no bugs.
Alpenglo on the mountain as the last of the sun touched it.
The night was peaceful, though we saw a rock avalanche on the mountain as the sun set, which was neat. You can hear motorcycles heading up and down to Paradise, as it carries across the air.
First light in the morning. The wispy clouds that had shown up at sunset were forming, which meant a lenticular cloud was forming.
We got packed up early as the cloud was starting to shape up. That meant weather changes were coming and it behooved us to get moving.
The hike back out to Mirror Lakes went quickly.
I would have loved to stay longer.
By the time we were back at Indian Henry’s the lenticular was forming larger, so we said goodbye and headed down the Wonderland Trail. The trail drops quickly out of sublapine into forest.
Devils Dream is the Wonderland Trail camp for the area. The forest isn’t that bad here, and is near Squaw Lake and a creek. It is a huge backcountry camping area, as many use it for night 1 on thru hikes. It was pretty buggy though.
The trails is graded though and easy on the knees and we clipped through the forest quickly.
The trail dips down to cross Pearl Creek then across a forested area and runs down to cross Kautz Creek.
A stiff hike up Rampart Ridge makes one ask why must they go uphill near the end, and passing the junction for the Rampart Ridge Trail it finally blissfully goes downhill. Zigzagging for ever, until it comes out to the road, crosses it, and quickly comes to Longmire, where upon the hike is over.
A few minutes after we got done, and were loaded up, rain starting to spit. As we drove out of the park the skies opened up and dumped. Lesson is? If you see a lenticular cloud forming in the morning, get moving.