Trip Report    

Day Hike - Eagle Peak

Welcome summer! Writing my hiker reminder group email the evening prior, "Don't forget to add your puffy and rain jacket to your pack tomorrow," I realize after clicking send I should have included sunscreen and hat as well. As we get ready and adjust our layers for summer, this report is about kicking off summer days with longer and higher hikes that include enough daylight for leisurely lunches at the top.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • As I pull up the recreational weather forecast enjoying my first sip of morning coffee, I see a glimmer of a hope from June gloom or "June-uary" on the distant horizon for the first day of summer 2023.

    Zeroing in on the 10 day forecast, I initiate a plan, "Sunny and high of 68."

    One of the benefits of being a hike and backpack leader is you can plan an activity around the weather and we all know how important that can be in Western Washington.

    With a newly found spring in my step, finding a good hike that fits the forecast is usually always the next adventure; a hike with a view is a must in my mind. One that comes to focus and includes the nicest view I know of for lunch. Bonus if its within a days reach.

    Eagle Peak, Mount Rainier National Park

    Tucked behind National Park Inn at Longmire, you actually drive through the employee housing and across a well-constructed suspension bridge suitable for vehicles to find the trailhead.


National Park Inn Early Late Teens Early 1920's

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The reason I am most familiar with Eagle Peak is my family worked for the park in the late teens and early 1920's. My great uncles, great-grandmother, and great-grandfather worked at the National Park Inn at Longmire. If you visit, take a look at the rock fireplaces at the general store in the back and at the community center near the trailhead, those were made by my great-grandfather's hands. My great-grandmother worked in the restaurant and my great uncles helped with guests. This left my grandmother at 11 years old "running" with guests when invited to do so and captivated with the experiences there kept all her grandkids enamored with the many stories of wildlife, mostly bears, coming into camp at night and ransacking and raiding camp or being stalked by a cougar up on the ramparts.

Mindful of history, I remembered grandma's bear stories the most often; she always spoke of bears in a whimsical, mischievous way. However, after a century of observation, re-education and continuing education, we've learned from our mistakes.

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Trip Details: With an unusually early, mostly snow-free trail and sunny skies of 68; on the first day of summer, events of the day can change fast in the mountains. An updated forecast now of thunderstorms after 11:00 am, high of 59 and sunny. Now aware, our group discusses how sun and thunderstorm might occur together during our introductions and reminders to protect wildlife and the environment with leave no trace.

The trailhead and hike begins at the Tatoosh Range, a spine of peaks from east to west holding names of Eagle, Chutla, Denman, Lane, Wahpenayo, Tatoosh, Foss, Plummer, The Castle, Pinnacle, Stevens, Boundary, and Unicorn. Tatoosh means "breast" in the Chinook language, The Tatoosh Range was used historically by Taidnapam (Upper Cowlitz) tribal people. The men fished, hunted and the women gathered berries, bulbs and roots, grass for weaving, to sustain and live here. 

At the western most edge of The Tatoosh Range, the Eagle Peak Saddle trailhead sign reads 3.6 miles. History mentions guests to Eagle Peak as early as 1893 taking 3 days to get there. The trail covers 3000' of elevation with expertly carved switchbacks, until a slope of talus appears, leaving the trees behind. The final approach to the saddle is a short climb on all fours and nothing out of a day hikers reach today, front-timing a possible afternoon thunderstorm. 

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On this day we also catch a distant view of the south volcanoes, of Hood, St Helens, and Adams. It is told two have lost their tops and the mighty Tahoma lost hers because rocks were thrown at her after leaving her husband as she smiles in our faces over lunch. IMG_9954 2-2.jpg

On this day we linger at lunch as the clouds begin to lift and stack. Paradise and Narada Falls on her shoulder, Comet Falls, Van Trump Park unthaw in her arms, adjusting layers like we do as well.


We drove one car into the park for the five of us today and hopefully left a smaller footprint than we might have if we have come alone.

It's always better enjoying a leisurely lunch and a spectacular view with friends.

At least most of us remembered our hats.IMG_9963 2.jpg