Distance: 9 miles
Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
The best (and shortest) way into Grand Park is through the backdoor. Some hikers do a 14-mile jaunt from the Sunrise area but my hiking partner and I opted to bump along some dirt roads and come in through the Eleanor Creek basin to shorten our trek a few miles.
After an effortless mile through the forest on a boot path, we arrived at Lake Eleanor and snapped a quick picture before letting a band of rowdy children chase us back on trail. The trail wasn’t challenging but it quickly opened to a mesa-like meadow spotted by silver forests. We missed out on the wildflowers and couldn’t find any wildlife to spruce up our adventure but it was a nice change of pace to be in an open space as opposed to struggling up a mountain.
The meadow stretched more than a mile with a cloud-covered Mount Rainier right in our face. We moseyed along the extremely narrow path (can’t damage the natural resources!) until we hit a junction that offered to take us either to a campground or far in the distance. Even homemade blueberry muffins couldn’t convince my partner to keep trucking so we let the breeze carry us back to the trailhead.