Thursday, August 21, 2008

Westside Road Closure

This is just a reminder the Westside Road, just inside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest quadrant of Mt. Rainier NP will be closed at the highway from August 18th to September 5th, see NPS News Release (PDF). The road will be open to hikers and bikers on weekends and over the Labor Day Holiday, and people should be aware of and use caution around the construction zones.

You can get an idea of the location of the Westside Road on the Mt.Rainier access guide and map. The road goes for 3.2 miles to Dry Creek trailhead (normally used for parking) before being a rough trail through the Kautz Creek bed to reconnect to the Old Puyallup Road which goes over Round Pass to Klapatche Park.

For photographers, this hike isn't much to see for Mt. Rainier, it's starts at about 2,400 feet and only increases about 400 feet to the Dry Creek trailhead and is on the west side of Kautz Creek the whole distance surrounded by forest with only an occasional glimpse of Mt. Rainier. Once past the Dry Creek trailhead the road quckly rise along the south side of Emerald Ridge to Round Pass where the trail to Lake George and Gobbler's Knob starts before the road descends into South Puyallup River basin.

There is one vista on the road up to Round Pass but since the road was closed to cars years ago the trees have grown to reduce the view significantly. There isn't any real views of Mt. Rainier on this route until you get to Gobbler's Knob lookoout. You can get an idea of the hike from the dayhike map.

That said, the Westside Road is one my favorite hikes for the easy hike to Dry Creek and the many photo ops along the way for small things people all too often overlook. It's just a matter of keeping your eyes open to look and see.

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