|Distance:||3 miles, RT|
|Hiking Time:||2-3 hrs|
|Elevation Gain:||1,150 ft|
|High Point:||6,000 ft|
|Snow Free:||August - September|
|Trailhead Pass:||National Park Pass Required|
Trailhead: N 46° 46' 05", W 121° 43' 54"
On a clear day you can see forever. Or if you're in a singing mood, you might break into "the hills are alive . . . " from the top of Pinnacle Saddle en route to an eventual scramble up Plummer Peak, one of the jewels in the Tatoosh Range. Or you might just sit for a moment and stare in awe at all the surrounding scenery.
How do you get to the trailhead for this hike to the saddle between Pinnacle and Plummer Peaks in the Tatoosh Range? Once you've driven to the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National park on Highway 706, continue 15.6 miles on the Longmire-Paradise road to the Stevens Canyon turnoff. Turn right and proceed 1.7 miles east on the Stevens Canyon Road to the long parking area along Reflection Lakes. The elevation here is just over 4,865 ft. The trail begins across Stevens Canyon Road on the uphill (south) side.
A word of caution before you start: Please have good hiking boots, as there are some snowfields to cross in July and rocks and paths up on the saddle and beyond can be hazardous. A walking stick also would be of value. Carry plenty of water, as there is none available along the route after mid-summer.
As you start your hike, the path climbs gently through an enchanting forest marked with occasional meadows sprinkled with monkey flower, asters, bistort, paintbrush, lupine, and other blossoms, maybe even avalanche lilies. Look for wildlife, such as deer, marmot, and gray jays that may visit you as you trudge on your way up to the saddle and your final objective.
At about 1/2 mile, the tempo soars and you're on the upswing. That means you're going higher and higher. You cross several large boulder fields. The view of Mount Rainier grows steadily more impressive with every inch of elevation gained. Climbing, ever climbing, you rise above tree line, moving along a very rocky, continually ascending path through a track of rocky rubble below daunting, 6,562-foot Pinnacle Peak.
If you wonder about the grand rockwork so visible here, it's been accomplished over many decades by trail crews building rock walls with materials at hand and their own strong muscles.
Finally, on top of the saddle, you welcome the pause. No, you haven't been climbing forever. It just seems like it. The scenery around is almost too much to fathom. It's among the most dramatic view in the park. See Mt. Rainier, of course, in all her glorious array. For an equally impressive view, look to the south across miles of forest, to the town of Packwood, the Goat Rocks, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams.
A trail west beyond this viewpoint leads along the saddle, offering a variety of picnic spots to enjoy the southern landscape spreading before you. Finally, there's a trail climbing the ridge toward the top of 6,370-foot Plummer Peak. A small tarn is situated along the moderately exposed, cliff-top scramble to the summit.
You've made it. It was worth the effort. Get back down safely, and enjoy the trip back, drinking in all the scenery as if it were the precious droplets of water still remaining in your water.