Up the road from Longmire and the Trail of Shadows is spectacular Narada waterfalls on the Paradise River. There are two sections of the falls, with the larger just under 170 feet long. Impressive! You can pull right off the highway to see it. Additionally you can hike down a short trail to the Inspiration Point viewing area near the base for a better view; it's a little steep but well worth it.
Rainier Day 1: Trail of the Shadows Hike, Longmire
After lunch we entered the Mount Rainier National Park and took the Trail of the Shadows hike across the road from the Longmire National Park Inn. It's a short hike, but with lots of quick changes of scenery to make it interesting to all ages. As you leave the inn, you get breathtaking views of Rainier and then you travel through swampy meadows and into the forest whose giant fir trees give the trail its name. There are also several springs along the trail, including the vibrantly colored and slightly poisonous Iron Mike spring, and even a restored homestead cabin from the 19th century.
Rainier Day 1: Hiking in Paradise
Near the end of Day 1 in the Mount Rainier National Park, we stopped at the satisfyingly appropriately named Paradise, Washington, for some hiking and then a picnic dinner. The views were beyond description! And the weather for us was perfection, as the fog burned off Rainier just as we started on the trail. When you visit the park, Paradise is a must-see!
Rainier Day 1: Reflection Lake
Reflection Lake is nestled in the foothills below Mount Rainier. There was just enough wind when we visited to send ripples across the water and prevent reflections of the mountain. Oh well! It was still absolutely gorgeous.
Rainier Day 1: Sunset Drive to Crystal Mountain
We ended a packed day of fun in the Mount Rainier National Forest by driving through incredible scenery to our hotel, the Alpine Inn at Crystal Mountain. The room was pretty small, but I had my own bathroom, and hey, we closed the bar that night. One thing that is for certain: the location is spectacular. Plus, we were a short walk to a host of ski runs. I'd love to return in the wintertime.