mcnorth June 2, 2016 LOCATION Mount Rainier Area -- SE - Cayuse Pass/Steven's Canyon LENGTH: 3.2 miles, roundtrip ELEVATION: Gain: 600 ft. Highest Point: 5850 ft. ========= This popular hike provides a range of alpine experiences in a short loop. Walk along a hillside above a small valley, pause at a viewpoint overlooking a lake, and stroll through grassy meadows with stunning views of Mount Rainier. In season enjoy an abundance of wildflowers or perhaps a handful of huckleberries. The hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail on the northern flank of Naches Peak and the Naches Peak Trail on the southern flank. The loop is best done clockwise for outstanding views of Mount Rainier. This hike begins at Tipsoo Lake and then traverses a steep hillside on the northern flank of Naches Peak. As you climb a gentle slope, you will look down on a small lush valley that is a wildflower heaven. In late July and early August you may be treated to a flower festival including blue lupine, white bistort, and magenta paintbrush. Along the way you will pass an unnamed lakelet where you may be tempted to take off your boots and go wading. As the loop wraps around the east side of Naches Peak, the trail comes to a viewpoint with Dewey Lake over 600 feet below. The smooth rock bench here makes an excellent place to eat lunch or take a break. This is a popular place, however, so be prepared to share the experience with others. On the southern side of Naches Peak, you will cross alpine meadows with stunning views of Mount Rainier. This is an exceptionally picturesque area, and it is easy to get fantastic photos here. Many people feel this is the highlight of the loop. For this hike, start at the Tipsoo Lake parking lot. Follow the trail northeast around the lake to the Pacific Crest Trail parking lot. Cross to the south side of the highway then follow the Pacific Crest Trail around the northern flank of Naches Peak. Just after the Dewey Lake viewpoint, the Pacific Crest Trail comes to a junction with the Naches Peak Loop trail. Go right and follow the Naches Peak Loop trail back to the Tipsoo Lake parking lot.