Mt Rainier: Eastern Loop

I had heard that camps at Summerland and Indian Bar on the eastern side of Mt. Rainier were some o the most scenic areas, so I looked at the map and found this 3-day loop that took in those areas. There was a slight amount of road-walking at the north and south ends (about a half mile each) to connect the two sides of the loop. For the end of September, the weather was great. It was a bit misty and cloudy the first day, but I was in the forest all the time anyway that day. It was 100% sun and blue sky for days 2 and 3.

Click on any photo to see the slideshow.

Eastside Trail to Tamanos Creek

The hike started up the Eastside Trail initially along the Ohanapecosh River. After 7 nearly flat miles, I turned left up the Owyhigh Lakes trail and climbed for thousands of feet through the forest, finally breaking out of the trees when it flattened out at 5200 to fall colors in an open valley. Owyhigh Lakes were a half mile further, and another half mile was my camp at Tamanos Creek.

Through Summerland to Indian Bar

Day 2 started by dropping 1700 feet from Tamanos Creek to the Sunrise Road and walking a half mile to the Summerland Trail. My remote and isolated first day was replaced by crowds of people on this popular trail. Four miles through the forest got me to the famous alpine meadows at Summerland, with a popular camp. But it was just my lunch spot. 1.5 miles on and 900 feet higher was Panhandle Gap, followed by a couple of miles of up and down in alpine rocks at 6800 feet with grand views. Then it was a very steep 1700 foot descent to gorgeous Indian Bar. I had rarely been more tired than this day.

Out along the Cowlitz Divide

From Indian bar, there was an 800 foot climb to a high point with the best views yet of Mt. Rainier, and Mt Adams as well. Then it was the very long 4000 foot descent down the Cowlitz Divide and Olallie Creek back to my car.