Crystal Peak + Chinook Peak by Crystal Mountain via Crystal Creek / 水晶峯

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I came across Crystal Peak and Chinook Peak in a report recently. So I thought we would check out the views down by Crystal Mountain. Highway 410 closure was going to start in less than a week. So we made it up just in time.

Crystal Peak, crystal clear
Crystal Peak, crystal clear

See more trip photos here.

Crystal Peak and Chinook Peak at a Glance

Access: Crystal Peak Trailhead
Round Trip: 9 miles
Elevation Range: 3520′-6904′
Gear: microspikes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no pets

Today’s Snow Level

The snow level from last Saturday’s trip started at 3000′. But today, we didn’t see any of it until we were above 5000′. Since both places were south-facing, so the difference was quite drastic and surprising.

All in all, the most snow we found on this trip was only ankle deep. But I had brought snowshoes just in case things became spicy higher up the mountain. Microspikes came in handy on the icy trail in the early hours.

Bridging the gap
Bridging the gap

See more trip photos here.

Hiking by Mount Rainier

It’s been a while since I last stepped inside the Mount Rainier National Park. If my memory serves me right, Muir Snowfield with the Mountaineers folks was the last time I came into the area. But it felt refreshing to return.

After going to places without a trail, I’d forgotten about the well-maintained paths inside the national park. The forest service has put in a ton of work to provide a pleasant outdoor experience for everyone. We saw at most two inches of snow.

First clearing
First clearing

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Crystal Peak Trail

Soon, we turned right at the 4600′ fork and crossed the small bridge over Crystal Creek. Later we zigzagged uphill through dense forest for 1700′. Then we had our first view of Mount Rainier by the clearing at 5200′.

Views of endless peaks to the west continued above the trees. Besides the excellent trail, the superb scenery was even more motivating. So seeing massive people here during the high season wouldn’t surprise me.

The first sighting
The first sighting

See more trip photos here.

Crystal Peak Summit Views

It was the final day of our recent week of sunshine. Mount Rainier filled the entire western skyline with its hundreds of peaks. But the view of the other three volcanoes came as a surprise. 

I had only expected to see Mount Adams. But Mount Saint Helens and Mount Hood made a cameo as well. To the north was Crystal Mountain‘s extensive ridgeline with Crystal Lakes in the basin below.

Southwest panoramic view from Crystal Peak
Southwest panoramic view from Crystal Peak

See more trip photos here.

Onward to Chinook Peak

Later we exited through the south ridge on the moderate terrain. Then we began the one-mile scenic and enjoyable traverse to Chinook Peak. Meanwhile, we walked through open terrain and open forests.

We mainly stayed west and south of the ridgeline. So we could bypass the dense vegetation and krummholz on the crest. Besides, above Crystal Creek Basin were some steep drop-offs.

Crystal Creek Basin
Crystal Creek Basin

See more trip photos here.

Chinook Peak Summit Views

We later reached the summit rocks at 6800′. Then we bypassed the outcrops and cliffs from the east. I wanted to go on the west ridge for the final scramble.

What a glorious day to be in the mountains! Like last week, the second summit stood 300′ higher. But today, we had a panoramic view of the whole region on both high points.

Southwest panoramic view from Chinook Peak
Southwest panoramic view from Chinook Peak

See more trip photos here.

Outro

On the way back, we moved west down the grassy terrain. Later we came out at the 5800′ south-facing switchback. Then we continued to savor the views there.

Later we lost all the views back in the forest. Then we met two hikers as they came up the trail.

Thanks for a fantastic day
Thanks for a fantastic day

See more trip photos here.

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