Famed as one of the best day hikes in Rainier National Park, the Summerland trail has great views of Rainier while on the trail. Even though it is a popular hike, it should not be taken for granted. The trail climbs up and switches back and forth through the trees to get above the tree line. In the summer, the conditions can be dry and hot making the hike even more strenuous. After the trees thin out, the trail passes through alpine meadows, where wildflowers add color to the landscape.

Take the White River Entrance into the park. Having a National Park Annual Pass is worth every penny if you visit the national parks multiple times a year. If not, pay the entrance fee ,and you are ready to go. The trailhead is near Fryingpan Creek, which is roughly 4 miles after turning onto Sunrise Road. The entire trail to the Panhandle Gap is 12 miles round trip with roughly 3,000 feet elevation gain.

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Finishing up the switchbacks to wildflowers and views.

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Little Tahoma looking tall next to Rainier–it is all about the angles.

Water flowing from the snow melt off the mountain.

The start of the rocky trail up to Panhandle Gap.

Crossing the stream and trying to keep our feet dry!

Even though it was a hot day, I wasn’t willing to take a “polar” plunge.

Rainier in all its glory. Ah, that is why it is called Little Tahoma.

The foothills of Rainier from Panhandle Gap.

Climbing higher for better views of Rainier.

If you look close, you can see people standing on the pass to the right. We decided to glissade down the snow patch instead of walking down the dusty trail.

Walking through the wildflowers and down the switchbacks after a great day.

The gentle trail through the trees to get back to the trailhead.

Sunlight shining through the trees is just as beautiful as mountain views. Don’t you think?

For more information on the hike, check out Washington Trails Association.

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