Crystal Peak + Chinook Peak / 水晶峯+契努克峯

I came across Crystal Peak and Chinook Peak in a report. So I thought we would check out the views. Besides, Highway 410 closure was going to happen in less than a week. So we came at the right time.

Crystal Peak, crystal clear
Crystal Peak, crystal clear

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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

The Snow Level

The snow level from Saturday’s trip was 3000′. But today, we didn’t see any until we were above 5000′. Both places were south-facing. So the difference was quite fascinating.

In the end, the most snow we found on this trip ended up being ankle deep. But I brought snowshoes just in case. Microspikes came in very handy on the trail in the early hours.

See more trip photos here.

Bridging the gap
Bridging the gap

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Hiking Near Mount Rainier

I haven’t set foot inside the Mount Rainier National Park in quite a while. At least not since my outing to Muir Snowfield with the Mountaineers folks. So it felt great to be back.

How quickly I’d forgotten the nicely maintained trails around here. The forest service has put in a ton of work in this national park. There were at most two inches of snow.

First clearing
First clearing

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Crystal Peak Trail

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

Above the trees, views of Mount Rainier and countless peaks to the west continued. The trail was excellent. Not to mention the superb scenery. So it wouldn’t surprise me to see massive people during the high season.

The first view
The first view

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Crystal Peak Summit

It was the final day of our recent days of sunshine. Mount Rainier, with its hundreds of peaks, filled the entire western skyline. But the view of the four volcanoes came as a total 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 the long-running ridge of Crystal Mountain. Plus, Crystal Lakes nestled 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. Then we began the one-mile, enjoyable traverse to Chinook Peak. At the same time, we walked through open terrain and thin forests.

In general, we stayed west and south of the ridgeline. So we could bypass the dense vegetation on the crest. Besides, there were steep drop-offs above Crystal Creek Basin.

Crystal Creek Basin
Crystal Creek Basin

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Chinook Peak Summit

Soon, we reached the summit block at 6800′. Then we bypassed the outcrops and cliffs from the east. So we would reach the west ridge for the final short scramble.

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

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

See more trip photos here.

Outro

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

Eventually, we lost the views to the tree line. Later in the forest, 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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