The Sunrise district of Mount Rainier National Part is on the northeast side of the park. Although the Paradise region seems to get the most attention from one-day visitors, the Sunrise district should not be overlooked. It’s not exactly off-the-beaten-path but it is quieter than the Paradise district. And of course, an early start will almost always get you some solitude, even on popular hikes.
On our visit to Sunrise, we decided to hike out to the second Burroughs mountain. This hike would have come in at 6 miles round trip. From the Sunrise region, you start heading up (quickly!) on the Sourdough Ridge Trail. After about 1.5 miles, you reach Frozen Lake, which is an open area with views of Mount Rainier and trailheads for a variety of destinations. After turning left to hike to the Burroughs mountains, we scooted across a stretch of icy trail and then came across a HUGE herd of mountain goats. One of the points of hiking this trail was to see wildlife so Kelly was pretty excited about this sight. There were dozens and dozens of goats grazing and even some kids playing around.
We kept climbing up to the second Burroughs peak and sat for a long time enjoying open views of Rainier, more mountain goats, and the sunny day. After we turned back, we decided we were not done hiking in the area. From the Frozen Lake intersection, we could see a fire tower in the distance that looked sublime. The 2.8 mile hike out and back along open ridgeline was the perfect way to extend our day in the area.
All told, we hiked something like 10 miles. You could definitely race through this but we took our time and soaked up every minute. If you have time to linger, we recommend it. The views were spectacular, including a view of Rainier from about as close as you can get without trekking up it. For most of the hike out to Burroughs, we were basically alone. Crowds started to pick up on our way back to Frozen Lake and more people kept arriving so the the hike back from the Fremont tower involved a good bit of waiting for others to pass (or having others wait on us).
After the hiking, we snagged burgers and ice cream at the snack bar in the area. We were camping on the other side of the park, so we pulled over for a post-lunch nap at an overlook. Then we headed down for a short meander through Grove of the Patriarchs on the southeast side of the park. I’m pretty sure there was another nap involved at that trail head. What can I say, summer hiking means early mornings to beat the sunrise and crowds? We rounded out the evening with some strolling around the Paradise region at sunset. We came across this fox bringing dinner home to her kits.