Distance: 8 miles
Elevation: About 2,000 feet
Location: Mowich area of Mount Rainier National Park
The infamous 17-mile road to Mowich gave me no problems as I sped along and I wondered why I’d felt such hatred toward the pot-hole haven last year. I'd had visions of a mini-summit in mind all morning but the road crushed them after all. The gate on the last 6-mile stretch was closed due to snow and ice so I was forced to park and improvise. I found myself on a reverse hike, meaning I trekked downhill and put in the work uphill on the return to the trailhead.
I settled on Paul Peak Trail, which drifted downward through an old-growth forest on generic switchbacks that didn’t pound the knees too badly. The scenery wasn’t stellar but the birds kept me company as I tromped past the junction with the Wonderland Trail and hiked another mile to Mowich River. The frigid water and snow-swept trees in the distance were the highlight of the trip so I didn’t linger long before heading back to the warmth of my car.