Snowshoe to Reflection Lakes
Rate this Adventure Washington › Narada Falls, Mt Rainier National Park
Added by Matt Klemsz
Experience this ever so popular summer attraction with a fresh perspective. With panoramic views, a well marked trail, and easy parking; this trail is great for those who regularly snowshoe or are trying it out for the first time! There's truly no better way to enjoy the snow.
In 1899, Mount Rainier National Park became the 5th National Park to be established, and for good reason! With over 350 square miles of protected wilderness there's nothing you can't do within the boundary of the park, and in this case we're talking about snowshoeing.
To many snowshoeing seems like a dauntingly hard activity, and don't get me wrong it can be, but the trail from Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes truly allows both the experienced outdoorsman and the exploring novice to enjoy a day out in the freshly made snowpack.
So where do you begin? Upon entering the park simply proceed along the only road there is until you reach a parking lot with a sign for Narada Falls. Once you're strapped in to your snowshoes and have all the gear you need in your pack you can meander just past the restroom facilities where there is a well marked orange sign indicating where the trailhead lies.
The great part about this trail is that as you begin to traverse the fresh snowpack all you have to do is follow the marked path, as every 20 yards or so there is a large black pole donned with neon orange tape. This assures those who may be new to the trail that they are indeed heading in the right direction. After about .5 miles of following the black and orange poles you will T with a snow covered road. From here you will take a right and continue SW for another .25 until you reach a large neon orange sign.
As seen in the photos above, the orange sign indicates to hikers that there are two viable paths to reach Reflection Lakes, each a mile in distance until your final destination. The first option, via Mazama Ridge, avoids the avalanche danger directly above Narada Falls. This trail continues to follow the road until you once again run into an orange sign telling you to follow the black and orange poles until you reach the lakes. There is more elevation gain with this choice, however keep in mind that means only about 400 feet. The second option, via Inspiration Point, simply continues along the snow covered road for the rest of the hike. With jaw dropping panoramic views and almost no elevation gain, this route is heavily favored when avalanche danger is low (the park rangers will tell you when you enter the park). It is important though to follow the guidance of what the rangers tell you, as you would rather climb a mere 400 feet than fall down a couple thousand into the ravine below.
Regardless of the trail you take, you will eventually end at the west end of Reflection Lakes. The frozen lakes looks almost just like a snowy meadow, with the Tatoosh Range towering on one side and the infamous Mount Rainier on the other. This marks a great spot to sit down and catch your breath, eat a snack and make some new friends. If you're feeling extra adventurous you can continue east along the snow covered road for another 1.2 miles until you reach Louise Lake.
Once you feel like you have had your fill, simply turn around and retrace your steps back to the Narada Falls parking lot.
- National Park permit (purchased at the gate of the park when you first arrive - $20 for a week pass or $50 for an annual)
- Waterproof hiking shoes
- Gators (optional)
- Extra clothing (layers)
- 10 essentials
- Avalanche beacon (optional)
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