Shriner Peak Mount Rainer
Shriner Peak Mount Rainer
This afternoon’s trail brings to a peak found at Mount Rainer. The peak is Shriner Peak and this hike is said to have some of the best views of the mountain. Also expect a lot of sun on this trail, when the sun is actually shining. This trail is incredibly steep but I suppose that is the price you pay for the view you are about to see. The sun exposure is all due to a large wildfire that has left the trail with little shade.
The under-appreciated Shriner Peak is one of the loneliest trails at Mount Rainier. It’s long, steep, and exposed, making it nearly intolerable in the stale summer heat. But enter fall, when the change of season ushers in majestic color and cooler temps, it’s the ideal time to hit this high-alpine trail before the snow starts falling again.
From the get-go, the Shriner Peak Trail steadily ascends 3,424 feet in 4.25 miles. Bring lots of water–you’ll need it , and there aren’t many sources along the way. The trail runs parallel to Panther Creek through shade Douglas-fir, cedar, and hemlock for 0.75 miles before entering an old burn area. Traverse this shadeless stretch for another mile to a steep series of switchbacks to the top of a ridge under Shriner Peak.
Ascending a dry, dusty trail to high panoramic views of Mt. Rainier and the Ohanapecosh Valley as well as distant views of the Cascades north and south, you can draw a sigh of relief and relax at the top of Shriner Peak, where a weathered, brown lookout tower has stood for more than 70 years. A lake in a meadow far below is the summer home of a large herd of elk. You’d think more people would climb to this site, but it’s hailed as one of the loneliest trails in Mount Rainier National Park. It doesn’t get any respect. But it should.
The trailhead is located along Highway 123, about 4 miles north of the Stevens Canyon entrance. The parking area is on the west side of the road, about 1/2 mile north of Panther Creek bridge. The trail is on the east side of the road, almost hidden from sight. Elevation here is 2,400 ft.
This trail is reasonably direct, with few switchbacks. The lower part of the route winds its way through tall Douglas firs, cedars and hemlocks. The route parallels Panther Creek. Reaching a luxuriant patch of berries, the path soon breaks into the hot sun, going up through an old burn with trees too small to offer much shade.
Shriner Peak is on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park. A nice 4.2 mile trail quickly takes you to the summit where you have an outstanding view and one of the four remaining lookout structures inside the park. You could even do some camping near the summit, but beware, bears are quite common on this trail.
Along the Trail
Once on top of the ridge, hikers enjoy commanding views of Mount Rainier, the Ohanapecosh Valley and the Cascades. For hikers seeking solitude, this is a good trail choice – probably because it can be extremely hot on a sunny summer afternoon.
The wilderness campsites at Shriner Peak are located near the lookout and offers an incomparable view of Mount Rainier at sunrise. Well worth the effort of waking early! A spring located about one mile back down the trail is the only source of water for this camp. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.