Mowich Lake & Spray Park
Last winter’s above-average snowfall and our long, cool spring meant that many of the fantastic alpine hikes in the Cascades have only recently become accessible. Yesterday was our first chance to get out, but it was worth the wait.
Mowich Lake Road meanders into the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park to, well, Mowich Lake, a beautiful and pristine alpine lake. Because the road is gravel and in rough shape, it doesn’t get the kind of casual scenery-gawkers that crowd other parts of the park on summer weekends. It does draw plenty of locals, though, for the excellent and (relatively) uncrowded hiking trails nearby.
It was our first time on the Spray Park Trail, but it quickly became one of my favorite hikes. The trail climbs 2,200 feet to Spray Park, a series of inter-connected subalpine wildflower meadows with fantastic views of Mt Rainier. Along the way, there’s a spectacular mountain lookout and a giant waterfall to lounge by. This trail has everything a great summer hike needs: it’s mostly shaded by trees but still has great views, there are lots of scenic streams, small waterfalls, and giant trees, and there’s the aforementioned beautiful (and frigid!) alpine lake to cool off in at the end. It was a classic Northwest summer day.
There aren’t many cities in the entire world where you can do a hike like this and still be home for dinner. It’s good reminder of why we live here.