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Trip Report    

Backpack - Grand Park (Mount Rainier)

A pleasant overnight to Berkeley Park where the flowers were at peak bloom. We entered and exited via the Lake Eleanor "back door" trailhead, and traversed the full length of Grand Park twice.

  • Road recommended for high clearance only
  • The final unpaved section of the road to the  Lake Eleanor trailhead was rough most of the way and very rough in 3 - 4 places.  It's not clear that a regular sedan could make it through the very rough sections without bottoming out.  It may be possible if going very slowly, but I wouldn't want to try it.  We were a fully vaccinated group and knew that the road was very rough, so we carpooled from Seattle using high clearance vehicles only. 

    The trail from the Lake Eleanor TH through the end far (south) end of Grand Park is in very good shape except for a few moderately muddy sections that were easily traversed.  The few very muddy sections that were present last week have dried and are only moderately muddy now.

    The section of the Northern Loop trail between Grand Park and Berkeley Park is in excellent condition, as is the group site at Berkeley Park Camp.   Both the bear pole and the privy (box toilet)  were in good working order.

    The group site at Berkeley Park  Camp is listed has having a capacity of 12, i.e. room for 6 tents, however we we found good tent sites for only 5 tents.  (The same was true last year - room for only 5 tents.)  Fortunately one member of our party had a hammock so did not require a tent-worthy spot.

    Flowers at Berkeley Park were at or near peak and spectacular.  Flowers in Grand Park were past peak, or were perhaps prematurely browned by the recent heat dome episode.  There were some flowers to be seen, but not the rich display one typically hopes for during an early season visit to Grand Park.

    Around Lake Eleanor the bugs were very bad on the way in and fairly bad on the way out.

This trip was a straightforward single night out-and-back trip to Berkeley Park (Mt. Rainier), starting from the Lake Eleanor trailhead and traversing the full length of Grand Park.  Both Berkeley Park and Grand Park are famous for their  early season flowers.  The flowers in Grand Park were past peak and somewhat disappointing (perhaps due to high expectations), but the flowers at Berkeley Park were spectacular and more than made up for it.  After setting up camp at the Berkeley Park group site, we explored more of Berkeley Park before dinner.  We were fortunate to have an avid Naturalist in our party who narrated the experience for us,  much to the delight of the group.

The forecast called for an overnight low in the upper 30's or lower 40's, and that seemed to have been accurate.  It was a bit cool overnight!  But everyone was prepared, and the cool temperatures were merely a topic of conversation rather than an actual issue.

On the hike out we continued past Grand Park for an extended snack break at a scenic overlook along the Northern Loop about 1/4 mile west of Grand Park.   The final walk out along Grand Park was beautiful but uneventful.  We arrived back at the cars around 1:30pm and proceeded to Wapiti Woolies in Greenwater for ice cream.