Trip Report    

Day Hike - Palisades Lakes (Mount Rainier)

Seattle branch hike to Brown Peak via Palisades Trail on July 23 with a group of 7 hikers, including side trip to Hidden Lake

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The Palisades Trail is in good shape except for a few blowdowns. Most were easily passable but two were quite large but also passable by established improvised trails that go around them. The trail to Hidden Lake is significantly steeper than the main trail and has one large blowdown that was difficult to get around, requiring a few feet of steep climbing and the use of nearby tree branches for purchase. The footpath up Brown Peak is steep and rutted in places, bordering on scramble but not quite. The summit of Brown is in trees and has no views, but wonderful views can be had just a few feet away (see picture).

We got an early start to avoid the summer tourist crowds, and arrived at Sunrise Point to find it nearly empty with only 1 - 2 cars there other than ours. The day started in fog with no views, but cleared by midmorning with full sun and blue skies for the remainder of the trip. We saw only about 10 other people on the trail the whole day, except when we got closer to the trailhead on our hike out.

On our way in we hiked straight through to the end of the Palisades Trail, where we encountered an actual sign that said "end of trail". On our way back we did a side trip up Brown Mountain (a Rainier "Top 100" peak) where we had lunch and enjoyed a fantastic view of  Rainier with Sourdough Ridge in the foreground. We also did a side trip to Hidden Lake, which was pretty but was really just one pretty lake in an area full of pretty lakes and perhaps not worth the additional 1 mile round trip.  (We are spoiled.)

Curious about why we had seen so few other people the whole day, we returned to the parking lot to find the usual overflow crowds at both Sunrise Point and the Sunrise Visitor Center. It looks like even on a busy day the Palisades Trail is not very popular, perhaps because it starts out by going down and away from the Mountain instead of up and towards it. It is a nice little trail that goes passed some beautiful lakes, meadows, and sections of forest, and offers a close up view of the dramatic basalt formations of The Palisades.