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Eagle Peak Saddle

Difficulty: moderate

7.7 miles

Elevation gain: 3030'

Max elevation: 5770'

Camps: none

First hiked by me: 2020

It's a quadfecta of volcanoes! One of the few spots in which you can spin in a circle and see all of Mounts Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, and Hood, without moving an inch.

Starting at Longmire, walk past the Park Service housing and cross the Nisqually River on a sturdy and attractive wooden suspension bridge. This was built in 1923-24 to reach a car campground, reconstructed to support heavier vehicles in 1951, and reconstructed again in 2005. The campground closed to the public in 1989, becoming the Longmire Stewardship Campground.

Shortly past the bridge, turn left onto the trail, then climb through forest. And climb, then climb some more. Eventually the forest gives way to alpine meadow, and the gradient increases. A final set of very steep switchbacks leads to a rocky saddle in between Eagle Peak and Chutla Peak, where the maintained trail ends (although skilled climbers can continue to the top of either peak). It's worth exploring a short distance to the right, where you'll find a bench and a less obstructed view of Rainier, but be wary of the drop-offs both sides of this saddle.

The view of Rainier to the north is simply astounding. Close enough to make out every detail of the buildings at Paradise, the snowfield route heading up from there to Camp Muir, and crevasses on the upper Nisqually Glacier, but also just far enough away to be able to take in the mountain as a whole, unlike closer views where proximity can sometimes obscure a full understanding of what you are standing on part of.

Don't forget to turn around, though. To the south you will see Mount Adams, so close it feels you could reach out and touch it, Mount St. Helens, and also Mount Hood (which is rarely visible from Rainier). Only Baker is missing from this volcano party.

Chutla means 'rock' in the Lushootseed language of the Puget Sound Salish.

The Nisqually Suspension Bridge

Final set of switchbacks up through meadow to the saddle

Eagle Peak Saddle

Looking south, Mount St. Helens (shown here), Adams, and sometimes even Hood are visible on a clear day

Looking north, the Nisqually Glacier and river valley, Paradise, and Muir Snowfield are splendidly clear