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Sourdough Ridge Traverse

Sourdough Ridge Traverse sounds so mighty, no? Going out for a week, and we might not return kind of yard πŸ˜‰ In reality Sourdough Ridge is the ridge that runs behind Yakima Park at Sunrise, below Mount Rainier. It isn’t backcountry by any means, but once you attain the ridge…you really do feel out there.


Once you arrive at Sunrise, at the end of the road, look uphill – that long ridge goes from Sunrise Point (the last switchback on the road) to Fremont Lookout. Find the trail by the flush bathrooms, to the left of the gift shop lodge. The downside is yes, there is a lot of uphill, no matter what might be spun. At least the views make it easy.


Once you reach the first junction (it’s a Y), take the right trail (although one could take the left trail and then the trail across, as they all connect). A slog across the hillside brings you to the top of the ridge, and connects with the top trail. Stay right for the traverse.


On a day like yesterday, it was 41* at the van when we started and a mix of mostly being in the clouds with partings of sun and a few views. My kind of weather. There isn’t many views of Tahoma that rival the ones from Sourdough, as you walk uphill.


As you hike along the ridge, it often opens on the left side, giving wonderful views of the valleys and ridges below. In nice weather you can often see Mt. Baker far away. In the upper left, Grand Park is visible. The week-long deluge of rain and early snows has left water behind, after a very long dry/hot summer.


Walker enjoying his treat during a break, I on the other hand was sighing over the luscious views of Grand Park.


The trail isn’t flat, and has plenty of thigh workouts…which is nice, but also, you see so few people on this trail.


Going the direction we took, you kind of forget Tahoma is there, since it is behind you, to your left. Periodically I’d look back and be “Oh!”.


If you haven’t been to Grand Park, you should at some point. It is hands down my favorite Rainier hike, but which ever way you choose to go in, you earn the hike. Β And yes, it is actually nearly flat once you enter it. Unlike most Rainier trails πŸ˜‰


At 5.5 years old, Walker is turning into a great partner. He has brought back how it was when Ford was little and went everywhere with me. And sometimes it is just awesome to have one on one time with each of my kids.


The fall colors are just starting, thanks to the snow we got, and are gorgeous!


And maybe the trail goes up a lot, but I love the parts where you can see the rugged alpine backsides of the ridge, and then the more sloping subalpine side.


As we weaved along, Walker and I had a lot of fun talking about his starting school last week. He is a kindergartener now and very proud of it.


Finally, we reached the top of the trail, where it shoots off to the summit of Dege Peak. The clouds were coming in and we had lost views, so we kept going. Most people turn around here, and head back to Sunrise. It had been 2009 the last time I had been there, so it is easy to forget how steep the trail gets from there on. After you pass Dege, it starts downhill immediately, following at points the ridgeline itself. It teases you as well, with views of Sunrise Lake and even Clover Lake, far below.


Walker happily heading down, especially when he noted that you could see the parking lot waaaaaay down there.


Either way, it’s a steep section (and you do an even steeper section before that in the trees).


But oh the fall colors starting up! And did I mention a severe lack of people? The other trailhead is at Sunrise Point, as I mentioned, and is mostly a tourist stopping point – of which it is worthy of, with nearly 360 views of the mountains. But the actual trailhead isn’t marked well. Oh darn.


Sunrise Lake is a few hundred feet below the road and has a trail to it and beyond (another great hike) to the Palisades. The grey area at the top of the ridge above the lake is the parking lot/road.


And oh, look who joined us! Daddy and Alistaire hiked in to join us near the end, and had a great finish up. Someday soon he will get to join us on this type of hike.

Side note:

This hike, past Dege Peak, to Sunrise Point, is best done when the trail is fully melted out and older kids will enjoy it more (above 7 or so), unless they are a strong hiker. As well, this trail does have many steep drop offs. If someone is scared of heights, or doesn’t listen well, it isn’t a good choice. But for solitude and views, it is a wonderful hike.

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