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Panorama Point Snowshoe

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The open snowfields, bowls, and meadows above Paradise draw snow lovers of all kinds, from skiers to snowboarders, but snowshoers have the edge on them all on the way up. Climbing the sometimes steep slopes is best done on a stout pair of snowshoes, and while the skiers and boarders may zip down faster than snowshoers, they blast past the awesome views that snowshoers can admire at their leisure as they slowly descend the mountain's flank. Countless opportunities for snowshoeing can be found in the open areas of Paradise, but heading up toward Panorama Point is the best of the bunch.

From the west edge of the parking lot, snowshoe up the steep meadow behind the guide service building, skirt around the left side of the groomed-snow play area, and hike north along the west side of the tree-covered crown of Alta Vista peak. The route rolls uphill through meadows and thin tree cover, with excellent views of the mountain when the weather is clear.

From the small saddle on the north side of Alta Vista, climb along the prominent ridge crest as it leads straight toward Mount Rainier. The route parallels the massive finger of Nisqually Glacier, and at 1.5 miles, crosses a flat bench aptly named Glacier Vista. This is the best place to find a panoramic view of the sprawling glacier as it stretches from high on the flank of the mountain nearly to the Road to Paradise. If you are tired from the relentless climbing, turn back here knowing you have experienced some of the best views of the route; or catch your breath while soaking in the scenery, and then continue up to Panorama Point.

From Glacier Vista, the route climbs steeply northeast through open hillside meadows (with a few thin stands of wind-savaged alpine trees) to another broad bench nearly 1 mile farther up the mountain. (The distance varies from 0.6 to 1 mile, depending on how steeply you climb.)

Panorama Point lives up to its name, with grand views of the mighty mountain, its lower flanks, and the serrated ridge line of the Tatoosh Range to the south. On clear, cold days, the rocky spires of the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area as well as the perfect cone of Mount Adams are visible to the southeast.

To return to Paradise, head east across the bench of Panorama Point and descend the wide open slopes of the upper Edith Creek basin. The basin is wide and you can pick your own path once you enter it, but use caution when making the first drop into the basin. For the safest route, hike southeast no less than 0.5 mile from Panorama Point to skirt out and around the steepest slopes, which are always heavily corniced. Once past the obvious cornices and steep drops, head down the slope along Edith Creek and follow it all the way down to Paradise, passing under Alta Vista and entering the upper Paradise Valley to approach the Paradise Lodge and parking area from the east.

Author’s Rating: Most Difficult
Hikers should have good experience and familiarity with snowshoes. This route features sections that will need to be evaluated for avalanche safety every time. Trails climb considerably and may include climbing to ridge tops. Traverses across forested or open slopes may be required. An ability to self-arrest with an ice axe or trekking pole recommended.
Driving Directions:

To get there, drive east from Tacoma on State Route 7 and bear left onto SR 706 at the town of Elbe. Continue east through the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, and proceed up the plowed road to the Paradise Lodge parking area.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 32 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Panorama Point Snowshoe — Mar 23, 2014 — SuziDonarski
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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There are many trails that you can follow to get to Panorama Point. We ended up doing a nice loop. T...
There are many trails that you can follow to get to Panorama Point. We ended up doing a nice loop. The loop started at the Visitors Center right where people are sledding. We started up the trail then veered off into the valley. We then went back up so we didn't take the most direct route but it was a good workout and beautiful views. Once we climbed back up to the steep section that you must climb to get up to Panorama Point we were in awe because we could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. We got up the steep section pretty fast because we just kept a steady pace. At Panorama Point the views are beautiful. I wanted to keep going up the mountain but we decided to turn around. I was surprised at how many people were hiking up farther.
Going back down the steep part was much harder than going up. We ended up taking our snowshoes off when we went back down. We used microspikes and poles to help us go down. We decided not to put our snowshoes back on the rest of the way back to the parking lot. It was pretty easy walking with out the snowshoes.
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Panorama Point Snowshoe — Feb 28, 2014 — Niko Niko
Day hike
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I decided to go up to Mount Rainier on Friday since decent weather was in the forecast, and I lucked...
I decided to go up to Mount Rainier on Friday since decent weather was in the forecast, and I lucked out. It was overcast at the lodge when I started my hike, but after about 45 minutes it cleared up quite a bit.

The route up was very well-defined and easy to follow. With my snowshoes on, I never sank into the snow at all. I even met a couple of hikers that didn't have snowshoes that were attempting it.

That steep hill up to Panorama Point was much easier going up than going down. There are so many tracks covering the hill that it's interesting to keep your footing. Still a fun trek though. It was so cold and windy at the top that I didn't stay long though.

All in all, it was a wonderful day! I met a few nice hikers and got to see gorgeous views.
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Panorama Point Snowshoe — Feb 08, 2014 — Niko Niko
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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We originally planned on hiking to Mazama Ridge, but ended up following others out to Panorama Point...
We originally planned on hiking to Mazama Ridge, but ended up following others out to Panorama Point. The weather started out decently, with just a small cloud rising before the Tatoosh Range. That small cloud later decided to gust in over us.

The trail was very easy to follow, mainly because there were several dozen people out snowshoeing or skiing. The hike itself was moderate - the final push up to Panorama Point was straining, though I had more difficulty going back down than I did going up. The snow was very soft on the hillside.

Up at the top, it became gusty and snow was blowing around, blocking most of the views. The temperature dropped quite a bit as well, so it was a good time to head back. The trip back to Paradise Lodge was cold, but relatively uneventful.

This is a great snowshoe, and one that I hope to do again on a day that has a nicer forecast in store. I highly recommend it! If you're going on a day that will be as cold as this one (temps ranging from 30 to 15 F), bring layers and very warm mittens.
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Panorama Point Snowshoe — Feb 08, 2014 — Erdeman
Snowshoe/XC Ski
Issues: Snow on trail
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Eight of us left Longmire shortly after the gate opened at 9:00. Conditions at paradise were p...
     Eight of us left Longmire shortly after the gate opened at 9:00. Conditions at paradise were perfect. The Mountain was out and blue sky encouraged us. Five folks were just ahead of us breaking a beautiful switch backing trail up to Panorama Point. Thank you very much. However, once we got on top, the wind was howling and blowing needle sharp spindrift. Below us a dense cloud was smothering the Paradise area. We dropped down off the ridge into the basin above the Golden Gate and into the thick cloud. Visibility went down to zero. I made sure we kept the group together and continued down the Skyline Trail as best as I could in wind blown powder sometimes thigh deep. We crossed the stream above Sluiskin Falls finding the log bridge at the bottom of a deep hole in the snow. We had a windy cold lunch by the Steven Van Trump Monument and then made our way down Mazama Ridge and soon dropped below the clouds and met several yoyo skiers and a Boy Scout troop digging in to spend the night out. There must have been fifty people playing along the Paradise Valley Road having fun out of the wind and the fog.
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Panorama Point Snowshoe — Jan 20, 2014 — Andrew Pringle
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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We took full advantage of the National Park Service's Fee Free Day (MLK Day) at Mount Rainier to get...
We took full advantage of the National Park Service's Fee Free Day (MLK Day) at Mount Rainier to get the snowshoes out at an elevation where there's actually a good amount of snow. There was more than a meter in most places around Paradise.

With a week since the last storm, variable warm temps, and a lot of sun and wind, the snow was windblown and compacted. The snowshoes were still useful in keeping us on top of the crust, but you could have done a good amount of exploring with MICROspikes.

Ranger Brandi rightly told us that the last steep climb from Glacier Vista to Panorama Point was icy, but by the time we made it up there, the snow was softening up in the sun. The viewpoint itself on the ridge was windblown and slick, but not too bad for sure footed explorers.

Overall, this was a great outing and offered spectacular views. It was great to see so many people out exploring.
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panorama pt bev.jpg
Snowshoeing to Panorama Point. Photo by Bev.
Location
Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
Mount Rainier National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain 1300 ft
Highest Point 6800 ft
Features
Mountain views
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Mount Rainier East No. 270,
Paradise No. 270S

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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