Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Pearl Falls & Pyramid Peak

A solitary and gorgeous setting for grand vistas of Mount Rainier, meadows/flowers, and waterfalls too numerous to name (except of course, Pearl Falls ;). A strenuous multi-day trip for very experienced parties at ~25 miles and ~7000’ elevation gain.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Perfect conditions for the 1st (most strenuous) day, with intermittent clouds and cool temperatures (greatly appreciated during all the hard work).  Water is still available in the meadows SW of Pyramid Peak (albeit with polliwogs), but this water may be gone in a few weeks. Our 2nd ‘Pearl Falls’ day was much cloudier, and although foggy conditions obscured the falls, the mist added melodrama to our route finding and photos.  No snow was seen the entire trip (except high on Mount Rainier).  We were fortunate to only encounter a small amount of dew on our 2nd morning (following a blustery evening).  Our rope was not needed/used for any portion of this trip.

After obtaining our camping permit at Longmire, our party of 5 hiked the Wonderland Trail to just past Squaw Lake (above Devil’s Dream Camp) where we began this beautiful cross country loop.  After ascending through meadows on the southern aspect of Iron Mountain (using a bit of its SW ridge), we lolled on the summit before traversing to Copper Mountain.  We then descended Copper’s NNW corner into the meadows SW of Pyramid Peak (where water might be gone in a few weeks).  After dropping our packs in a copse of trees at ~6000’, we summited Pyramid Peak via the normal route.  The options to enter Pyramid Park (the meadows east of Pyramid Peak) are very limited, with the only conservative option being a game trail that crosses Pyramid’s south ridge at ~6100’ (the other, longer option is around the north side of Pyramid Peak, our return route).  Crossing the south ridge we descended into a waterfall wonderland near the expansive plateau (at elevation ~6000’) that makes up a large part of Pyramid Park.  The morning of our 2nd day (with day packs) we started our descent to Pearl Falls from the SE corner of this plateau on a true bearing of 180° using a ridge crest that is just east of a stream that begins below the 6000’ plateau.  We followed this ridge to ~5300’ where it begins to veer east (very close to the stream), and from this spot we simply traversed east (at ~5260’), following faint game trails (at the base of substantial cliffs) to reach the Pearl Falls viewpoint (photos/videos can be seen here).  After ascending to camp, we completed our loop by navigating through fog to the northern aspect of Pyramid Peak, and descended through impressive slabs/pools on Pyramid’s western aspect before following the Mirror Lakes/Wonderland trails back to Longmire.  Including many rest breaks, our first day was ~10 hours from Longmire to our Pyramid Park camp, and our second day (after sleeping in) was ~8 hours (this includes the 2 hour jaunt to Pearl Falls).  Photos from this trip can be seen here.