Summit Lake trail, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF, WA
Not surprisingly this fairly easy trail was a busy one with many backpackers, families, dogs, and day hikers. Still it leads through some beautiful old growth forest and mountain meadows with awe-inspiring views of Summit Lake and Mount Rainier. The avalanche lilies in July were spectacular with meadows after meadows richly dense with their blooms. The numbers almost cheapened their beauty. Adding to the wildflower extravaganza are the paintbrush, beargrass, and shooting stars that dot the meadows, bogs and mountainsides.
Despite the busy crowds and screaming kids, we saw a teenage black bear lumber across the trail ahead of us. Perhaps fleeing or just passing through the usual boisterous of the weekend crowd. Birds were few and far between. Hermit and Varied Thrushes still sang their melodies in the morning and Golden-crowned Kinglets chirped and seeped in the mossy covered pines. An unfamiliar alarm call alerted me to the presence of a Barred Owl that didn't look too concerned about the Varied Thrush as it made a few contact flutters on its back.
If you're not too concerned about sharing the trail, but are more interested in flowers, views, and old growth or if you want to take the dog and/or kids on a mountain trail, this is the perfect match. If you're hoping for solitude, look elsewhere.
Located: Outside of the Carbon River entrance of Mount Rainier NP, SE of Buckley
Interagency Pass or Northwest Forest Pass required