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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - The Palisades & Marcus Peak

A perfect fall day to scramble a couple of Rainier 100's and help a fellow Mountaineer accomplish their goals.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The trails from Sunrise point up to Hidden lake were in great condition with no problems.  The unmaintained trail to the saddle between Marcus and Palisades peaks was easy to follow.  The very loose sandy dirt did make descending this trail tough though due to the dirt sliding out from underfoot.  

With a plan in hand to help a fellow Mountaineer get peak number 50 on the Rainier 100 we started at Sunrise Point just before sunrise.  The parking lot was packed but there were still a few spots remaining.  After watching a nice fall Sunrise we headed down the traii to our objectives, Marcus and Palisades peaks. 

Marcus and Palisades as viewed from Sunrise Point.

Marcus peak to left of tree in center, Palisades to right.


Since this trail starts off by going downhill and the morning was a bit cool we took off at a quicker than anticipated pace in an attempt to warm up.  Once the sun started to hit us the layers came off.  Due to the mostly downhill nature of the trail at this point we made quick time to our first objective Hidden lake.  In my opinion this lake is the gem of all the lakes that the Palisades trail takes you past.  The lake was nice and calm this morning allowing the entire basin it sits in to be reflected in it. 

Hidden lake at its best this morning.



After a quick break to get photos and rest we continued on our route around the lake and up to the saddle between Marcus and Palisades peak.  At some point it appears there was a maintained trail to this area.  It is now overgrown in places but still easy to follow.  Once we arrived at the basin between the two peaks we took another quick break, helmeted up and asked our star of the day which peak was going to be number 50?  Marcus was the reply so off we went.

Scramble approach to Marcus peak.


For out approach to Marcus we decided to stay low and gain the ridge line from a gully close to the actual summit block.  We were tempted to gain the ridge right from the saddle but it would have been a bit of a brush bash and there are also reports of an airy step along the ridge that we elected we did not want to do.  The gully we choose to gain the ridge looked to be well traveled and took us onto the ridge with minimal issues.  

The approach gully to Marcus.  Easy scrambling but watch for loose rock.


Once we gained the ridge we were near the summit block.  All it took to reach the final summit block was a quick move down the ridge and then ascend the summit block.  Half our group ascended the summit block from the right side while the other half went left.  Both routes were nice scrambling.  

Approaching the summit block.


Marcus peak summit block.  Photo by Jason BoehIMG_20220924_104402439.jpg   

Once on the summit we celebrated peak number 50 for our fellow Mountaineer and then headed back down the same way we came to get peak number 51 for them since we were in the area. 

Half way through the list. Good job.


The descent  back down to the saddle went quick and easy.   From there we headed up Palisades peak.  For the most part this peak is a walk up.  There are game trails that run up to the summit.  If you do it right you won't really do any brush bashing at all.  On your way up you will get great views of Rainier and Marcus peak with the "skull" on its flank.

Rainier from Palisades


Close up of Marcus and its "skull"


Palisades peak has a nice surprise with its view of some Geology of Rainier.  It has a fantastic view of some columnar basalt right from the peak.   It is some of the longest columns that I have seen in the park.  

Rock columns off Palisades peak.


After a quick lunch cut short by the arrival of some large wasps we headed back down to Hidden lake where we took a break to patch up feet and get some fresh water.  Temps were forecast to be a high of 60 for the day but we all agreed it felt much warmer than that.  After this we returned along the trail back to Sunrise point.  Unlike most Scrambles we had to work on the way out and climb up.  All in all it was a fantastic day.   Surprisingly the only wildlife we saw besides the ever present Squirrels and Pika  was a pair of Grouse  on the trail.


Total mileage for the day was 9 miles.

Elevation gain was at 3,400 feet.

Trip time was just over 8 hours with plenty of breaks to enjoy the views.