Wildflowers are now blooming around Mt. Rainier. Visit one of the park classics – the Nisqually Vista Trail at Paradise. This paved trail is suitable for people of all ages and offers unforgettable wildflower meadows and splendid mountain views.
Distance: 1.2 mile loop trail
Hiking Time: 0.75 hr
Elevation Gain: 300-500 ft
High Point: 5,800 ft
Snow Free: Mid-July – September
GPS Waypoints: Trailhead: N 46° 47.104′, W 121° 44.494′
Number three on the top ten list of things to do in the park, the Nisqually Vista Loop Trail is a beautiful, relatively flat trail, perfect for someone looking for a short hike to take in some views or for those hiking with small children. And in mid-summer, vivid wildflower displays take over the meadows.
As the trail begins in the parking lot for the old Jackson Visitor Center, a tall canopy of trees hangs overhead, with Dead Horse Creek running along its side creating an idyllic alpine scene. The 1.2-mile loop trail was created in order to feature the Nisqually glacier and the headwaters of the Nisqually River, making it a perfect choice for school groups or families looking to teach children about the basics of glacier formation and watershed ecology.
During the height of summer at the park, this rolling, paved nature trail is also a sure bet for wildflower displays. Meadows of aster, heather, lupine, paintbrush, lilies and many others, create a splendid carpet of color. These picture-perfect wildflower meadows are world-renown and delight even the most seasoned Rainier hikers. A fan favorite along this walk are the views at Fairy Pond — a charming pool of water framed by the delicate Jeffrey’s shooting stars, not to mention the views of Nisqually Glacier are drop dead gorgeous.
At about .5 miles the sound of rushing water takes over, and a quick peek over the first lookout reveals the beginnings of the Nisqually River rushing at the base of the mountain, about 1500 feet below the trail. Listen and watch for icefall on the mountain and take in the immenseness of the Nisqually glacier. Binoculars are definitely recommended to be able to study the features of the ice more closely.
After taking in all the Mt. Rainier views from the various viewpoints, the trail rounds the corner opening up to views of the Tatoosh range. The trail descends into the cover of trees once more, and ends in a switchback to meet up where the loop began. Beautiful in the midst of summer, and even when there is some snow on the ground, the Nisqually Vista Loop Trail does not disappoint.