Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Tokaloo Rock & Aurora Peak

A gorgeous scramble through the alpine country on the west side of Mount Rainier, with stunning flowers and views of the Sunset Amphitheater.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • A partially cloudy day gave us perfect temperatures in the 60s and moderate winds most of the day.  No ice axes or traction devices were needed, with the still remaining snowfields either low angle or easily avoided.  Although drinking water is still available from tarns at ~6600’ SW of Tokaloo Spire, they might be gone in a couple weeks.

With this being a such a long trip (plus a few weeks from the equinox), we opted to meet just before sunrise at the end of West Side Road (the drivable portion).  The road hike gave us lots of time to safely catchup on our respective COVID lifestyles, and after descending the connector trail from Round Pass, we found ourselves crossing the South Puyallup River bridge 2 hours into our trip.  After another 1.5 hours of trail work we had a leisurely flower photo/food break in the meadows just east of the Wonderland Trail at ~6200’:3D57B0B9-C9C8-4FC0-BE7E-15EEB29C2704.jpeg

Lots of stunning flowers, geology, tarns, and views between this meadow to the summit, not to mention the surreal feature of Tokaloo Spire intermittently beckoning in the distance.  We opted to traverse the southern aspect of Andrew (no summit) in order to have time for Aurora Peak later in the day:909D0F68-3455-4034-A11C-CC652BEF4DE4.jpeg

After summiting Tokaloo Rock, we descended to the low spot at 6600’ (near the tarn and just NE of Andrew), to begin a direct descent towards St. Andrews Lake for water and a return to trail travel. An interesting geological feature on this segment was a round ‘blasted rock’ ring the size of a football field (upper right portion of photo):FD2EFC4D-F2D6-4EA2-86D8-C13829781333.jpeg


We left the trail at the saddle on the SE aspect of Aurora Peak and used intermittent game trails for an ascending traverse (clockwise) to intersect the normal boot track to its summit.  After a quick break in Klapatche Park (still some water in Aurora Lake), the rest of the day saw us hiking the Klapatche Ridge Trail, and the West Side Road (plus connector trail) for our return to the cars (just before sunset).

A gorgeous and strenuous day of ~24 miles/~6100’ elevation gain, with 5.5 hours from cars to the summit of Tokaloo Rock, and a total time of 13 hours that included several hours of breaks.  Photos from this trip can be seen here.