Top ten Mt. Rainier spring hikes

Agnes Island
Agnes Island, Packwood Lake – Karen Sykes
1)  Melmont Ghost Town – Easy | Carbon River Area
History buffs will enjoy this hike following an abandoned railroad grade that once ran between Fairfax and Carbonado. The town dates back to the early 1900s and included a train depot, hotel and cottages used by coal miners
2)  Packwood Lake – Easy | Packwood Area
Although the grocery store and resort at Packwood Lake are now long gone, the lake is a beautiful destination with an island, views, a historic guard station at the lakeshore plus the hiking is easy. In spring, the trail is lush with evergreens, moss and early-season wildflowers including bear grass.
3) Rainforest Nature Loop Trail – Easy | Carbon River Area
The Carbon River Entrance of the park is open year-round and most of the day-hikes in the area are forested and lush with thick mosses, lichen and a thriving understory. An easy hike for hikers of all ages is the Rainforest Nature Trail, a short trail that loops through floating lanterns of skunk cabbage on ancient puncheon.
4) Lower Eastside Trail – Moderate | Ohanapecosh Area
The Ohanapecosh Campground opens in spring; hike as far as stamina and conditions allow. Allow this trail, gape at impressive waterfalls formed by melting snow, cross gurgling tributaries on pretty bridges and look for a variety of ferns and early spring wildflowers including stream violets, salmonberry, flowering red currant, Indian plum and vanilla leaf.
5) Laughingwater Creek Trail – Strenuous | Ohanapecosh Area
Getting in shape for those long, summer hikes? This trail is quiet and ideal for hikers seeking solitude as well as a conditioning hike. This steep trail not only provides a workout, but it’s guaranteed to enchant you with views of shaggy-barked Alaska cedars, spring wildflowers, ferns, small grassy meadows interspersed with ponds.
6) Greenwater Lakes – Easy | Chinook Pass Area
Greenwater Lakes can be reached year-round, though spring might be its best time of year. It’s only three gorgeous miles to the first of the lakes with 475 feet gain. The forested trail is guaranteed to dazzle with a view of a waterfall before you even get to the Greenwater River which is crossed on a sturdy bridge. Here are the first views of the aptly-named lake which is indeed very green.
7) Trail of the Shadows – Easy | Longmire Area
The trail starts across from the National Park Inn. Hike counterclockwise, read the interpretive signs and peek into a historic cabin built by the Longmire family. The trail dips in and out of the forest at times skirting a meadow taken over by beavers. Stop at Rusty Springs also known as “Iron Mike”. Many decades ago visitors came to bask in the springs seeking relief for various ailments.
8) Rampart Ridge – Moderate | Longmire Area
The Rampart Ridge Trail climbs steeply to an overlook providing views of the Nisqually River, the National Park Inn and nearby peaks. Keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife. Notice the various mosses and lichen clinging to the trees. Opportunities abound for enjoying the forest community.
9) Boundary Trail – Moderate | Carbon River Area
This is a forested hike leading to a waterfall on a historic trail that once circumnavigated the park. This hike starts on the Rain Forest Nature Trail to a designated junction with the Boundary Trail. Continue to the waterfall and/or continue climbing as far as desire/experience allow.
10) Palisades Trail – Easy | Chinook Pass Area
When it still feels, like winter the Palisades often feels like spring. Look for delicate Calypso orchids; enjoy the scent of vanilla leaf, and view the groundcover — a thick carpet of salal, Oregon grape, ferns, moss and lichen.
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