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Shadow Lake Loop Trail

I’ve spent a lot of trail miles the past few years hiking and re-hiking a few certain trails, that I know well, are kid-friendly and please my senses. Shadow Lake Loop Trail at Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park is one of those. It is easy on the eyes, to say the least.


I know what to expect, change doesn’t happen fast up here. I am above treeline mostly. And with the never-ending heat wave down below in Washington, we left in the afternoon, and got on the trail at 4 pm. The worst of the day’s heat was behind us.

But this year was special:


Both boys walked it on their own, at a pretty good pace. For them. (Which means it only took 2.5 hours to walk 3.2 miles…lol!) If anything, the youngest, Alistaire, did almost better than his brother, Walker. When I hike with my youngest I see in him what my oldest son had at around 4 years old – the drive and energy to hike. It is something I will watch as he gets older (he is 3 now). Last year, I was still carrying Alistaire on my back. Seeing that he could do it, has made me happy. It opens up so many more hikes this year now!


Sunrise is at 6400 feet, with the trail looping below that in elevation. As with the hiking this year, the flowers are early. At Sunrise, most were at peak 2 weeks ago. A few patches, near the remaining water sources, are still gorgeous though. The bi-color Lupine was fabulous!


We walked from Sunrise down the old road/trail to where it connects with the Wonderland Trail. It is the “easier” way for kids, as it is the longer section and is ALL downhill. Walking back up it is long, hot and dusty. The trail hooks to the left and eventually wraps around the Sunrise backcountry campground for the Wonderland, then onto Shadow Lake.

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It was’t low yet, but will be soon. For this time of year it should still have a bunch of snow – and we all know the snow has been gone for weeks this year up here.


As late afternoon turned into early evening, when I looked towards Rainier, you could see a pink tinge in the sky. Even this far South, the smoke from the many forest fires is coming down quickly (especially from the BC ones).


We took a break at the lake, skipping rocks, making wishes and having a snack. I’ve never stopped at Shadow Lake in summer and not been swarmed by bugs. Yet, there were only a few around and mostly left us alone. Weird.


The lake had one of the few wildflower displays left.


Two happy boys, in the summer sun. It was maybe 70*, with a gentle breeze. Great walking weather.


The open meadow on the back held a flower display as well. I had to encourage them to keep walking though…..


Because dusty trails, a stick or fingers…makes for a great way to waste time 😉


It was 65* when we got back to the truck, and knocked a lot of dust off our shoes. And were the 3 & 5 year old tired? Hah. No. They chattered all the way down Big Snowy Mountain, all the way home. Had I known that…maybe I should have taken them on the longer loop up there 😉

One thought on “Shadow Lake Loop Trail

  1. What a lovely blog. It is so great to see kids enjoying the outdoor life; far too many kids these days spend all their time indoors

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