Mount Rainier is located within the Mount Rainier National Park, which boasts over 260 miles of maintained trails for visitors to make use of. The mountain itself is known for being extremely glaciated, with its character being very similar to an Alaskan peak, which is why plenty of planning needs to be done if you are hoping to hike one of its stunning trails.
When to Go
The weather can make or break your Mt. Rainier hike, which is why the optimum climbing season runs from April to September, with the weather really stabilizing out after the first week of July. However, the changing seasons does mean that certain routes are only accessible during certain parts of the year, so you need to find the perfect balance of stable weather and good route conditions.
Choosing a Route
There are many different Mt. Rainier hiking routes to choose from, and this really does depend quite a bit on your experience and skill level. For those wishing to make a trip out of it, staying overnight and camping, Disappointment Cleaver or the Emmons Glacier are great options, while the Tahoma Glacier is perfect for those who want complete wilderness and solitude. There are also many day hiking options available, from the Trail of the Shadows to the Nisqually Vista Trail, which lets you walk amidst the clouds, to the Shadow Lakes Trail, where you will be able to see the Frozen Lake. If you want to climb to the highest trail-accessible point on Mt. Rainier, then check out the Burroughs Mountain Trail, which takes you up to around 7400 feet.
What to Bring
When hiking Mt. Rainier, it is important that you have all necessary supplies with you, as you will not be able to stop off on the way and pick anything up. This includes a map, a compass and a flashlight, as well as extra food and clothing. Sunscreen is also useful on a hot day, while a pocketknife will often come in handy when you least expect it to. Matches and another fire starter can also be worthwhile to bring, while a first aid kit is absolutely essential.
While you are hiking, you are likely going to need to stop several times for a drink of water to keep yourself hydrated. However, as clean as the water you may see around you may seem, it is important to either boil or treat all water before drinking it. You should also be sure to tell your friends and family of your plans to hike Mt. Rainier, as they will then be able to inform rangers of your absence should you fail to return for whatever reason.
While novices are able to hike Mt. Rainier, this is a mountain that does require a certain amount of skill. If you are completely new to mountain climbing, it would definitely be worth spending some time in advance working on perfecting your climbing and hiking skills, as this will also boost your confidence when it comes to taking on the mountain.