Mount Rainier Area
Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
RoadRoad suitable for all vehicles
SnowSnowfields to cross - could be difficult
We found some great snow conditions for cross country skiing on the north Mount Tahoma Trail system--four inches of cold light powder on a firm base. The snow trails here get occasional grooming, so they aren't rutted. Monday's weather was clear and cold, offering great views in every direction. Along with Mount Rainier, I could see Mt. Adams, St. Helens, and even the Olympics. We skied beyond the Copper Creek Hut to the ridgeline beyond, a round trip distance of about 10 miles. It is worth making that short steep climb to the ridge, because the views get much better up there. The Mount Tahoma Trails are located near Ashford and the west entrance to Mount Rainier Park. Unlike the groomed trails near the I-90 snowparks, the MTTA (Mount Tahoma Trails Association) trails are open to snowshoeing and dogs as well as skiers. I had my dog Lex along, and was able to try out a little "skijoring", which involves hitching the dog to a harness and tether and having him pull you along while you ski. It's great fun and it gives the dog quite a workout. If you are tired of the crowds, expense, and limitations of the I-90 groomed trails, you should check the MTTA system out. A snowpark permit is required, but you don't need the extra-cost grooming sticker. The access road to the north trail system is now plowed to the middle parking area, greatly reducing the effort needed to get to the Copper Creek hut. This access road is steep and frequently icy...do bring chains for your car!