Elevation: a bit
I was looking for something a little light since I was recovering from both a cold and a shoulder injury (and Aggie was in fine and dandy good health) so I aimed for a couple of short, easy hikes with big payoffs.
First of all, let me thank the gods and their creators for a fantastically beautiful October here in Western Washington. Warm temps, minimal rain, and a general postponement of that famously dreary Washington winter.
Some of that fall color is actually singed trees from a forest fire. The only other hikers I encountered were workers clearing some of the trail of burned and damaged trees. It was entirely coincidental that this was the second smoky hike of my year (Noble Knob was the other, and much more severely damaged.) The fire damage on this trail was patchy, showcasing the fickle paths a fire may take.
Union Creek Falls is a quick jaunt from the trailhead; a spur trail leads down to the falls, where you can sit and lunch, as we did. The trailhead is on the north side Rainier, and you’ll thread into and out of the National Park, passing Sourdough Gap and Lake Tipsoo on the way.
The trail itself is pretty chill, though I only hike about two miles in. Nice views of the surrounding hills, though the best feature I found was the waterfall. I believe there are more further up, but my mother’s cautionary voice in my head was going on about pneumonia and certain death.
I did not catch pneumonia, nor meet a certain death, but Aggie did shame me.
Towards the start of the trail, there’s a log bridge, and on our way back, we ran into some workers repairing the steps to the bridge. They kindly moved out of the way for us, but the first step was about 4 feet off the ground.
For context, you need to know that I often call Aggie my “little mountain goat,” and she had just finished scaling some rocks down by the waterfall. But she decided that she could not jump on the steps for no reason other than to make me lift up her butt in front of the others. It was a power play.
On the way back home, we visited Suntop, just outside of Greenwater, a 30 minute drive up a decent forest road (whenever I say “decent,” that means my Camry didn’t hate me.) I guess sometimes the gate is open and you can drive all the way up to the top, but we parked a ways below and immediately began hiking the wrong way. You can hike all the way to Suntop from the bottom; it’s about 15 miles and completely unnecessary.
We took a short trail to another part of the road and decided just to hike up the road. Do you know what’s more tedious than driving a forest road? Hiking a forest road.
There’s a fire lookout at the top, and several picnic tables in weird spots. There was also some strange rock off in the distance.
So that was Suntop. It looked like there was a trail to the top, but I didn’t take it on the way up and couldn’t find it on the way back. You’re welcome for the half-assed information.