FKT: Brian Abrams - Mt Rainier Northern Loop Trail (WA) - 2020-08-23

Route variation
Standard loop
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
13h 0m 49s
GPS track(s)

Mt Rainier's "Northern Loop" is an amazing trail and makes you feel "out there", especially when going solo. It has it all....big mountain and glacier views, river crossings, lakes, wildflowers galore, steep ups/downs and some of the best buffed trails in the PNW. Continuing on my streak of Rainier trails and loops, it was awesome to get this one done. Perfect conditions with the dry dusty trails nicely watered down from the previous days rain, clear skies and good am temps, but hot in the afternoon.

This is a long loop hike through the most pristine wilderness of the park, through forests and meadows, over rivers, under a cliff of colorful rocks, near the Natural Bridge, past numerous mountain lakes, in ever-changing views of Mount Rainier and its glaciers. Consider the Northern Loop, a Wonderland Trail Lite. You still get a full adventure packed with spectacularly rugged scenery on this hike, but with about one third the mileage of the epic trip around the Mountain. You wander through the northern hinterlands of the park. Incorporating a stretch of the Wonderland Trail; the Northern Loop ventures across parkland meadows, alpine tundra, old-growth forest groves, glacial moraine, high passes, and low valleys.

Didn't see a person until mile 22 and then just 3 until I got close to Sunrise. Lots of critters though...elk, goats, black fox and a very close encounter(2nd week in a row) with a I almost crashed into him. He exploded up a tree right next to trail and was snorting and grunting and I had to wait a fair bit for him to come down and move off before I could continue...very stressful.

At the end of the day, this is a real ball buster and really tested me. Any time you want to test yourself and have a solid day with remarkable scenery, this should be on your short list of must do's...truely an amazing PNW trail.