Washington’s identity is inextricably tied to the breathtaking beauty of Washington’s tallest and best-known peak, the perennially snowcapped Mt. Rainier. To the residents of Puget Sound, it is simply “The Mountain,” a singular peak towering above all others in the Cascades.
A pilgrimage to its base (and for some, its summit) is a must for any Washington traveler, who will be dazzled by surrounding alpine meadows, thundering waterfalls, up-close encounters with glaciers and wildlife, and—if the mountain chooses to peek out from under the clouds—a neck-crick-inducing view of the peak that is more impressive than the postcards imply.
But Mt. Rainier isn’t nearly the only natural wonder in the vast recreational playground of the South Cascades. Here too are the mountain’s volcanic siblings—temperamental and denuded Mount St. Helens, and remote and wild Mt. Adams beg to be explored as well. Surrounding all of it are untouched tracts of wilderness, hiking trails galore, ski summits and cross country trails, chilly glacier lakes full of trout, and gurgling creeks meant to be paired with a pitched tent and a crackling fire.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition