|Area: Paradise||Starting Point: Paradise|
|Distance: 2.25 miles, RT||Duration: 1.5 hrs||Difficulty Level: Easy|
|Elevation Start: 5,421 ft||Elevation End: 6,050 ft||Elevation Gain: 650 ft|
* Mileage, elevation gain and high point will vary depending on your route.
Another short route beginning from the Visitor Center is the Golden Gate Trail, a trail that in summer leads to Myrtle Falls, Sluiskin Falls and to other points of interest, beyond. There were recent snowshoe tracks on the Golden Gate trail so we had no trouble following the route. Beyond Myrtle Creek Falls, experienced snowshoers often continue to Panorama Point. However, unless you are experienced, we recommend stopping at one of the high points along the way.
Which high point? Just about every rise or hillock qualifies as a viewpoint when skies are clear. Our high point at 6,050 feet afforded majestic views in all directions. Before we left we took photos of a lenticular cloud forming on the summit of Mount Rainier. This formation brings high winds, white out conditions and cold temperatures from the summit to well below. These clouds are shaped like saucers – when there are several, they stack up like plates. Venture off the packed trails if you like, but be sure to keep an eye out for changing weather and avalanche slopes.
To get there: From the Nisqually Entrance of the park drive to Paradise via the Nisqually-Vista Paradise road to the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center and parking. For additional information on renting snowshoes, rules and regulations, current conditions, weather, call Mount Rainier National Park (360-569-2211) or visit their website at www.nps.gov/mora/ .
The recommended map for Mount Rainier National Park is Green Trails (Mount Rainier Wonderland Map 269S). -Karen Sykes, Visit Rainier Hiking Expert
Trailhead: N 46° 47′ 12, W 121° 44′ 03