On August 5th I went to Mildred Point on the SW side of Rainier (Longmire/Paradise area). This was my first official WTA Hike-a-Thon hike. I am hiking not only for pleasure this month, but also raising money for Washington Trails Association. Please consider sponsoring my hikes this month…even a little bit helps.
This was a tough hike. I was feeling low on energy from the start which didn’t help. I think it was a combination of not enough sleep and smoke in the air. Even so, I pushed myself and made it to the destination.
Here are the stats on the trail per WTA:
7 miles roundtrip, 3135 feet elevation gain, high point 5900 feet.
Pass required National Parks Pass.
*You can get the “America the Beautiful Pass” which covers National Parks, National Monument, Northwest Forest and more. (Note it does not cover state parks. You still need a Discover Pass for these.)
For driving directions and more trail information see: www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mildred-point
The road to the trail head was paved all the way. They are currently repaving the road, so you may encounter some road construction along the way. The parking lot at the trailhead is small, so plan to get there early. There is space for 16 cars, and a few spots along the side of the road. There is another parking lot up the road if all of the spaces are full. Be careful if you park on the side of the road. Some of the spaces were rough and if you do not have AWD you may have some difficulty.
Near the start of the trail you cross a bridge crossing Van Trump Creek, and continues to follow this creek up to Bloucher Falls and Comet Falls. There are several nice viewpoints of the creek with smaller falls on the way to the larger ones. On this lower part of the trail I noticed many berry bushes. Blueberries, salmon berries, thimble berries…and some I wasn’t sure of…maybe blackberries. Some were just starting to produce fruit, others…not yet. The flowers on the lower part of the trail looked like they were starting to peter out but up top…amazing. Heading to Comet falls there were some rock staircases and some wooden ones to get your heart pumping. I recommend hiking poles on this hike as it is a knee-killer.
The first big waterfall you encounter is 1.6 miles from the trailhead. This is a good place to cool off (dip your hat or bandana in the water for cooling purposes). I forgot to do this on the way up, but remembered on the way down. From here go to the left of the bank to rejoin the trail.
As you continue up the trail you will soon start to see stunning views of Comet Falls. At 1.9 miles from the trailhead a side-path approaches the 392 foot falls. Take a moment here to be cooled by the spray from the falls and enjoy the beautiful field of flowers before continuing up the trail. This is where the flowers really started to get impressive…and they just keep getting better.
As you continue up the trail it climbs steeply – more stairs…per wta, you climb 650 feet in half a mile and reach a junction (I don’t remember the junction. I must have been too tired to notice.) To reach Mildred Point turn left at this junction and drop 200 feet (yes this means you need to go up it on the way back) to a log crossing Van Trump Creek. Look up! As you approach the creek you start getting great views of Mt. Rainier. It is worth noting on this section of the trail the bugs start. Some mosquitoes but it is mostly those annoying biting flies that are troublesome. Bug spray might help. One of the flies actually made me bleed! Ouch!
After you cross the creek it is a little tricky to find the trail. Go LEFT and look for cairns. Follow the trail to some amazing wildflower meadows and views. It was smoky on the day we went from fires up in BC. The views were great, but I bet they would be even better on a clear day. You will soon reach another junction. Turn right to go to Mildred point…up, up, up… but very beautiful with all of the meadows of flowers and many views of Rainier. One of the last sections was very steep and rutted. The top portion of this section was sandy and slippery, making the climb even more difficult. Don’t be discouraged this is the last REALLY hard part. after this it evens out for a moment then one last climb to Mildred Point for an in-your face view of Mount Rainier.
Here is the reward. An up close and personal view of Mount Rainier! At the very top the bugs didn’t seem to be biting as bad but they were still there. Enjoy your lunch here. You earned it!
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