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

  • Reading time:4 mins read

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

Snow level from last Saturday’s trip was at 3000′. But today, we didn’t see any until we went above 5000′. Both areas were south-facing, and so the difference was quite drastic.

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

See more trip photos here.

Bridging the gap
Bridging the gap

See more trip photos here.

Hiking by Mount Rainier

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

Though, how quickly I’d forgotten the well-maintained trails around here. The forest service has put in a ton of work in the park. There were 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 sighting of Mount Rainier by the 5200′ clearing.

Above the trees, views of endless peaks to the west continued. The trail was still excellent, including the superb scenery. So it wouldn’t surprise me to see massive people here during the high season.

The first sighting
The first sighting

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Crystal Peak Summit Views

It was the final day of our recent week of sunshine. Mount Rainier, with its hundreds of peaks, filled the entire western skyline. 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. Then we began the one-mile scenic and enjoyable traverse to Chinook Peak. Mena while, 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

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Chinook Peak Summit Views

Later we 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.

Like last week, 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

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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