This hike takes you gradually up to a ridge looking west to Mt Rainier’s Tahoma and the White River and on to the Crystal Mountain Summit.
The hike begins 2 miles down Crystal Mountain Boulevard and down a short spur road. After crossing the bridge over Silver Creek, turn right on the first road you come to and park at the dead end – you will see the trail. This trail doesn’t see too much traffic until the summit, but beware of occasional mountain bikers and horseback riders.
As you gain elevation the shaded young forest transitions from hemlock to fir. You will skirt impressive cliffs before the trail opens to meadows where you can see across Crystal Mountain Boulevard to Norse Peak and Castle Mountain. This section is great in the fall when the scrub oak turns to bright red!
Once to the ridge you will turn left, north, and follow the ridgeline. Look down to see ski runs off to your left and more wonderful vistas to your right.
The final slog takes you past Northway chair and Green Valley via a gravel road up to the summit house and gondola. Here is where you wonder how a flat “cat track” can be such a challenging hike. If you’re doing an out-and-back, this is the turnaround point. You can also ride the gondola down for a fee (even with your dog) or continue on to the Crystal Mountain trail, making a big loop.