Hiking

Grand Park

The first time I saw Grand Park was on the summit of Dege Peak, on the Sourdough Ridge, of Mount Rainier National Park. It was the early summer of 2003. I looked across and wondered what that massive flat stretch of green was called. I visited it the long way that summer, coming in from Sunrise to Berkley Park and then up to Grand Park. I made the entrance to it and we ran out of time and had to turn back (as it involves 3 climbs of elevation to get back – and a couple going in).

The back door entrance to Grand Park sits down a forest service road, off of Hwy 410. It gets you to where you want to go. The trail is less than 4 miles one way, with minimal elevation gain on the way out. The downside is you must drive in on a couple of FS road, that then narrows down to a skinny single track for a bit. Take 73 off of Hwy 410, and continue up the road where it turns into 7360. Park where the road has started to turn to the right, and you have passed a creek sign. There isn’t much parking, backing in is a smart move. Don’t forget your NW Forest Pass or America The Beautiful Pass.

There isn’t much parking, backing in is a smart move.

Look for the Elanor Creek sign, on the left side of the road. The trail starts here, popping into the woods.

The trail winds up to Elanor Lake through forest. The National Park boundary is at the road. There is backcountry camping at the lake, in the woods. The downside is you can hear trucks through the woods.

The trail goes uphill from the lake, through more forest and then pops out onto a long flat section that holds a couple small lakes (melt ponds). First view of Mount Rainier and the peaks around Sunrise.

Looking back as we passed the largest lake.

The trail dips back into the forest and goes uphill, up a low ridge to the top. We hit early season snow in the woods here.

After the ridge you pop out into subalpine woods. The snow was melting and the lilies were starting to pop on the sunny day. One last push up a draw.

And suddenly the trail flattens out. The start of Grand Park is in front of you. The hook of Little Tahoma is visible in the far distance, and the ground was covered in lilies, just opening.

The thing about Grand Park is it gets better with every step you take. The trail is narrow though, so you sometimes have to look down and quit staring at the mountain.

Early in the season Grand Park has multiple melt ponds, but dries out by mid summer. Carry the water you think you might need.

Far in the distance is Mount Fremont, with the lookout tower at the end, on the bump.

The highlight of this trail is Tahoma. She is massive in size. Little Tahoma is the hook to the left.

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Ford crossing the rocks of a melt area.

Looking back. In a week or two the meadows will be blazing with wildflowers.

The first time I made it to Grand Park I stopped here, as we came from Berkeley Park. It is 3.3 miles from Lake Elanor.

We walked to the end of Grand Park, where it slopes off to hurtle down to Berkely Park, and drops down into the forest. The hike out was spent with many turning arounds, to stare at Tahoma.

~Sarah

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