Posts Tagged ‘Mt Rainier’

Scenic Driving Tour of Three Washington State Mountain Passes

Saturday, May 10th, 2014
Update: Chinook Pass opens May 23, 2014. Expect Winter driving conditions check WSDOT.
This road trip is a 3 1/2 hour circle drive from the Yakima Valley over three scenic mountain passes, White Pass Scenic Byway Hwy 12, Cayuse Pass Hwy 123, Chinook Pass Hwy 410.  Expect the most spectacular scenery in Washington State. The Cascade Mountain Range is a relatively young mountain range of basalt rock, steep and forested.  High meadows and passes in the mountain range are at 5,000 and 6,000 feet.

Description of the driving tour: You will be driving White Pass Scenic Byway first, Cayuse Pass, and then the Chinook Pass Scenic Byway. There are endless alternative side trips and activities, including hiking, climbing, photography, and camping, as well as short walks to scenic attractions. Starting in Yakima, on I-82 West, to Hwy 12 west, 20 miles following the Naches or “White Pass”  to the junction of Hwy.12 and Hwy. 410.

McIlrath Fruit Stand at the intersection of Hwy 12 and Old Naches Hwy and offers a variety of valley farm fresh fruit and produce.  In approximately 10 miles reach the town of Naches. Thompsons Farm Market offers local farm fresh produce, their own family farm grown tree ripened fruit and gifts, wine and wine tasting. 

At the junction of Hwy 12 and Hwy 410, turn left onto White Pass Hwy 12.  Immediately on your left, view the spectacular Tieton extruded rock formations known as Royal Columns, popular with rock climbers. There is hiking and mountain biking trail called the Tieton Nature Trail.  On your right (north) is the Oak Creek Game Range, a very large wildlife management area operated by the State Department of Wildlife.  This is an attraction during winter months when large numbers of elk are feed and an interpretative center with information on the local wildlife.

Proceeding up Hwy. 12,  view volcanic rock formations, a rapid change in vegetation from sagebrush to the alpine firs at the summit.

Bordering the road on the south is the Tieton River, is a major rafting attraction during the month of September, when large amount of water is released from the dam at Rimrock Lake to irrigate the vineyards and orchards in the Yakima Valley.  This release of water is called The Tieton River Flip Flop by the locals.
Rimrock Lake, behind the Rimrock Dam is a summer recreation area with boat launches, beaches, camping and cabins.The Rimrock Dam, built in 1925 to serve the Yakima-Tieton Irrigation Project, was the largest earth-filled dam in the world at that time.

You will cross The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, just before the summit at White Pass Ski Area.
Once over the summit at White Pass, look south for a spectacular view of the Goat Rocks, and a scenic viewpoint for Mt. Rainier. The highway descends along the bank of the deep cleft Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River, originating at the Cowlitz Glacier on Mt Rainier.
At about 61 miles from the junction of Hwy 12 and 410 there is a viewpoint for The Palisades, a spectacular showing of tall rock columns. Look for the signs announcing this viewpoint on the downhill (left) side of the road. There is a nice pull off from the highway here with picnic tables. In 2.5 miles, turn right from White Pass Hwy 12 onto Hwy.123, Cayuse Pass and the Ohanapecosh Campground. Vegetation is thick, near rain forest ecosystem with very large trees. Going straight, instead of turning onto Hwy 123  takes you to the city of  Packwood with groceries, restaurants, gas and lodging at the Crest Trail Lodge.
Ohanepecosh Campground and Visitor Center, a Mt. Rainier National Park campground is a favorite because of its large trees and location along the Ohanepecosh River. Pronounced like, “Oh Hannah by gosh”. There is a visitor’s center with detailed information on Mt.Rainer and the park.
 

Continue on Highway 123 for 11 miles to the junction with Hwy. 410. Turn right to Chinook Pass. The Chinook Pass Scenic Byway is generally open by Memorial Day, and usually remains open through October. . The steep highway jumps rapidly up the switchbacks as you quickly enter a zone of sub-alpine vegetation. Peak flower blooms are in late July and August. It is  3 miles to Tipso Lake parking area and another 1/2 mile to the parking area on the east side just past the footbridge, which is part of  the Pacific Crest Trail. There are many hiking options in this area.  One short trip offering beautiful photo opportunities is the Naches Peak Loop Trail at the top of Chinook Pass. Further down the Chinook Scenic Byway closer to the hamlet of Cliffdell is the Boulder Cave Hike.

In Cliffdell stop at  Whistlin’ Jacks Lodge (milepost 96.1)  for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an overnight stay in one of the cottages along the Naches River.

At milepost 108.6 there is a new section of road due to a massive landslide which covered the highway and altered the course of the Naches River.  Looking north one can see the scar the landslide on the hill. Further down the road is the Woodshed Restaurant at Eagle Rock Resort , offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, a lounge, and camping.
At the junction of Hwy 410 and Hwy 12, continue straight toward the cities of Naches and Yakima.   

For more information on Hikes along this route:

Naches Ranger District Hiking Trails
White Pass Scenic Byway Hiking Map
Mt Rainier Hiking Trails

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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Naches Peak Hike is for Wildflower Lovers

Sunday, August 12th, 2012


Naches Peak Hike on Chinook Pass,  Hwy 410, is an easy 2 1/2 hour hike with an amazing view of Mt Rainier and numerous wildflowers. One starts the hike by going over the bridge across the highway at the top of the pass, going clockwise around the peak. This a great stop on your way to the Yakima Valley.

After a short walk you will reach a small pond with some large outcroppings of  rocks to sit on and enjoy the view (the pond in the photo below).  Hiking further uphill one reaches the steepest section and the turn around to the western downward slope where you can see Dewey Lake (pictured) in the valley below.


In early August it is spring in the mountains and the wildflowers are usually in bloom. For Mt. Rainier wildflower information Click Here. This will give you some idea of what is blooming at elevation. Identify the wildflowers you will see by going to this page, Click Here. For a map of Naches Peak trail Cick Here.

Current conditions Video: 8.08.12  Posted on Washignton Trail Association (WTA) Website Click Here. for more information. video includes into of short hike around Lake Tipso at the Chinook Pass rest stop nearby.

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Mt. Rainier comes into sight as you crest the first rise on the west slope of Naches Peak. This west side of the trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail and dogs are not allowed in this National Park Service Area.

Naches Peak is about 60 miles from Yakima on Hwy 410. Looking for a place to stop and eat, Whistlin’ Jack Lodge in Cliffdell is a great spot to stop for breakfast before your hike or a late lunch or dinner after your hike. Spend the weekend exploring this beautiful area with a stay at one of the cabins by the river at the lodge.

The Woodshed Restaurant & Lounge at Eagle Rock Resort on Hwy 410 offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a warm and relaxed environment.

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau.  If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michele Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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Hike at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier Before Season Ends!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Looking for an easy 2 hour day trip from the Yakima Valley, or a great stop off Hwy 410 on your way to Yakima Valley Wine Country, Sunrise, on Mt. Rainer offers day hikes and an amazing viewpoint for watching the sun rise in the morning. At an elevation of 6,400 feet the trails meander above the tree line. Upon entering the National Forest about 2 miles off Hwy 410, you will receive maps of these trails. The Sunrise Visitor Center is 14 winding miles from the entrance of the park and is open daily from early July to early October. The Sunrise Day Lodge is open until late September and offers food service(weekends only in September)  and a gift shop, but no overnight lodging. The trail from the Sunrise Visitor Center parking lot leads the hiker up a moderately steep hill, which you can return by or choose to do a 1 mile loop. As you continue toward Frozen Lake you will see three Burrows Mountains. Sunrise Visitor Center in Distance In the picture on the right three Burroughs are the three grey hills in front of Mt. Rainer. First Burroughs is the largest hill to the left. At Frozen Lake below you may choose to continue around to the lookout point, back to the Sunrise Visitor Center or or toward the 3 Burroughs. The view is spectacular hiking up to 1st Burroughs. This is a steep trail and you can choose to continue on to 3nd Burroughs. 3rd Burroughss has no trail and is more of a scramble up the hill. At the top is a spectacular Emmons Glacier overlook.
If you are planning on greeting the sun as it rises on Mt Rainer, the closest campground is the White River Campground at an elevation 4,400 Ft., and 112 sites. This campground is open until mid September and is located about 12 miles from Sunrise.

After your exhilarating hike proceed down the mountain on Hwy 410 toward Yakima and stop at Whistlin’ Jack Lodge for an overnight stay in the forest or breakfast or lunch. End your day in the Yakima Valley sipping wine at one of Washington premier wineries.


The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michele Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.


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