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Family Hiking To Ipsut Pass

Every year I have meant to share the Mowich Area at Mount Rainier National Park with Kirk. And I realized I had not taken Walker or Alistaire up there yet as well. So Sunday morning seemed perfect, especiually with coolwer weather forecasted.


But while Mowich is incredibly close to us as the crow flies, it is also a huge pain in the butt to get there. I always get a slight giggle when one sees the road as being called “State Highway 165”. Hahaha. Oh man. There are forest service roads in better shape. But while the area fills up with cars, it still isn’t busy like one sees at Paradise or Sunrise. Its sitting out in the middle of nowhere kind of helps the crowds. Still, you do well to get there early so you are not walking back up the road. It is the trailhead after all for Spray Park, which is one of those places that is worth a crappy road. Just expect it will take a lot longer than you think it will to get there.


I roped the whole family in, from the husband down to the oldest son. The youngest boys may not hike the fastest, but oh, being out there with them makes it worth it.


I wait all year for this – the simple pleasure of picking and eating blueberries and huckleberries – and sharing them with my little cubs. The two youngest were in berry heaven, happy to scarf down what I picked. The huckleberries were deep red to nearly black (which are the ripest), throughout the hike.ย The blueberries were sprinkled in. You had to keep an eye out for them, tucked away.


I chose to take the hike on The Wonderland Trail, starting with the trail along Mowich Lake, which follows the shoreline. As it turns, it goes above the lake, through pretty sun filled forest – with the lake on your side.

Kirk walking with Alistaire –


You leave the lake, cross a pass and head down a wee bit, then traverse a ridge. This side gives a few peek a boo views, looking down an avy slope at one point where you can see quite far.


The boys were really taken with this set of trees.


The Wonderland Trail is fascinating to hike – because it constantly changes. No boredom of sights, give it a mile or two, and something new to look at. Or to climb up. Or down.


The trail seems to end here. Of course it doesn’t really. Ipsut Pass is a neat wooded pass. The trail stops at a large rock wall (not seen here, it would have been behind me).


And then to your right, the trail shoots down, down and down. Having walked down Ipsut Pass before (when we did the Mother Mountain Loop), it is a crazy knee killer. Gorgeous. The top half is this amazing hike of heavily scented green. The view down below is the Carbon River Valley. Not a lot of hiking to see such a pretty pass. The wind blows here and often bugs are low. And it gives a great spot to flop down if you have hiked up the stupid hill.


After a rest at the pass, we started our hike out. By the time we crossed the second pass again, the weather was shifting. It had dropped a few degrees and the skies were even more clouded over. For hiking weather it was perfect. Few bugs, around 60* and a light wind. In the weather, Mowich Lake was so pretty.


An afternoon storm hit Rainier not long after we got done, but then blew through.

It was Alistaire’s longest hike on his two feet, making a 3.4 mile round trip. He did so well. It is a great way to introduce friends and family to The Wonderland Trail without over taxing them – and if you want more, just before Ipsut Pass is the trail off to Eunice Lake and Tolmie Peak.ย 

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