Sourdough Ridge 2.5 mile loop, 400 feet elevation gain
Pass-Pay to get into Mt. Rainier National Park Difficulty-2/5 (with kids) Rating-5/5
This summer we have picked up a few new hobbies, (kayaking and rock climbing) so we have neglected hiking. This past weekend we decided that it was time to go on another hike. At the beginning of this summer we made a summer bucket list of things we wanted to do and going to Mt. Rainier was high on that list. We decided to hike Sourdough Ridge that is in Mt. Rainier National Park. Its near Sunrise/White River area of Mt. Rainier and is a stunning place! We entered Mt. Rainier at the White River entrance (which early afternoon was packed and we waited in line for awhile. Coming home around 4 PM there was no line to get in.) and drove up Sunrise Road until the very end of the road. There is a huge parking area and a visitor center as well. There are lots of bathrooms, gift shops, and snacks available there. Sunrise is the highest you can drive up Mt. Rainier at 6,400 feet. Its also one of the most visited areas of Mt. Rainier National Park.
When we got there, the parking lot was packed. We found a spot on the road, but very close to the parking lot. Other people had to park further out than we did, so we were lucky! The visitor center was definitely packed and the start of the trail was packed (there are several trails that start where ours started. Once we got up the steps the crowds were thinned out as people went on their separate trails. There were other people with us on the trail until we got to the top of the ridge, then when we headed down, we had the trail to ourselves.
Even though Sunrise was crowded the guide book said that the crowds would thin out. The views promised to be amazing so we thought we would risk the crowds. When we pulled up to Sunrise I was in awe. It was so beautiful. Mt. Rainier is huge and the valley is full of wild flowers. We were surrounded by other jagged peaks. Even with crowds it is worth the drive up! Since the elevation is about 7,000 feet higher than where we live we expected it to be chilly. We were very wrong. It was pretty warm hiking and we were in full sun the whole way. (This would have been a great early morning hike, or a great evening hike for that reason.)
Sourdough Ridge is a loop hike that is 2.5 miles long, with 400 feet elevation gain. Chris and I both felt like the hike was shorter than 2.5 miles. We double checked the map, the guide book, and I looked online and sure enough everywhere said it was 2.5 miles. I’m not sure if the kids are just getting better at hiking, or hiking out of the forest makes it feel shorter, but I would say it was fairly easy. The elevation gain wasn’t bad at all. The kids ran most of the way (after they got passed their whining about the hot, the sun, and the actual hiking.) No switchbacks just a gradual incline. Once you reach the top of the ridge there is a lookout where you can see down into another valley. On the side we hiked up there are great views of meadows, other mountain peaks, and the parking lot. There are peaks in every direction, with Rainier looming in the forefront. The valleys are full of flowers dotted with pine trees. There are rumors of marmots here, but sadly we did not see any.
If you want an easy, kid friendly hike with views of Mt. Rainier then this is the hike for you. (Its not stroller or wheelchair friendly.)
After our hike on Rainier Chris wanted to check out a place to possibly rock climb. It would be about an hour, hour and a half out of the way, but I love drives and adventures and my boys love climbing that we thought it would be worth it. (Plus Chris told me I could get a soda from Sonic in Yakima! So of course I was on board.) On our drive to Yakima (where the rock climbing was) we had some awesome views of Rainier, Mt. Adams, and some small ponds. It was amazing! We saw a couple that had easels set out and they were painting the view of Mt. Rainier. It made me wish I could paint. It was such a fun drive.
As we lost elevation coming down the mountain we ended up being in the deserts of Washington. We turned onto a dirt road looking for the rocks to climb, but sadly we couldn’t find them. We also didn’t have any cell service so we couldn’t check the internet to find them. (It made me think back to when I was a kid and when we would adventure and had no internet to figure things out while we were on the go!) We left and drove to Sonic for a bathroom break, dinner for the kids and a soda for me! Chris checked the internet and found where the rocks were to climb and we decided why not go back and check it out for next time. (By this time it was about 7:30 PM so it would be dark soon.)
It took us a bit longer to get to the rocks, but it was still a lot of fun. I asked Chris if I needed my tennis shoes on or if I could hike in my slip on sandles, neither of us really knew what to expect so I went in my sandles. It was a bad choice. For the most part the hike was easy and flat, but all of a sudden we were on a steep trail up. The kids needed to be pushed up they were slipping all over the place. Finally me and Lilly decided to wait for the boys. They even decided to turn back shortly after. Going down was rough in my sandles. I was sliding Ryan was with me and he was sliding. We decided to go on our bums for a bit. Ryan ended up slipping and falling in a huge pile of nasty stickers. He was tough and there were no tears. Chris got down and dropped Lillian off and came back for Ryan. We finally made it down and back to the car. I got tape to pull out all of Ryan’s stickers and we drove home. It was good we went back to the rocks because we learned that getting to those rocks to climb would be a little too hard with kids so we won’t be climbing there for a few years.
It was a great trip with lots of driving for us. (About 2 1/2 hours to our hike on Rainier, about an hour to rock climbing, and about 3 hours home from there.) I love drives and visiting with Chris, I love seeing new scenery and I love adventuring my family! It was a great day.