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Spray Park

Difficulty: moderate

7.3 miles

Elevation gain: 2250'

Max elevation: 6120'

Camps: Mowich Lake, Eagle's Roost

First hiked by me: older

Positioned on the rainy northwest flank of Rainier, the expansive meadows of Spray Park host an extraordinary profusion of wildflowers. Also, mosquitoes. So many biters that I once overheard a couple up here having what sounded like a relationship-ending argument when one wanted to go further while the other was being eaten alive, and there was much blame about who forgot the bug spray.

Ah, but the flowers, and the views. They're worth the occasional blood sacrifice :-)

Start at Mowich Lake, the end of a dusty, potholed road. Hike south, ever so gently downhill, through luscious forest. After two miles take the short detour to the almost annoyingly archetypal waterfall, Spray Falls. The official path to the falls ends with an ok view, but scrambling up closer can yield a much better one.

Past Spray Falls the trail gains altitude, switchbacking through forest before arriving at the open alpine meadows of Spray Park itself. Check out the summit views to the right, and Mother Mountain to the left, and flowers everywhere, and ouch, swat, quit biting my arm you %$#@!

There is no set turnaround point here. The meadows continue upward for another mile, with increasing likelihood of encountering snow patches the higher you go. Hike as far as you want, but please stay on the main trail and ignore the many side paths eroded by others less considerate. The lushness of this vegetation would not be enhanced by your boot prints.

If you find yourself intrigued to explore further, check out the Spray Park Loop, or Knapsack Pass for the adventurous.

Spray Falls

Close-up of Spray Falls

Entering Spray Park

Avalanche lilies

Looking across at Mother Mountain

A layer cake of flowers, snow, cliffs, sky

Avalanche lilies, mountain, and bloodsucking monster

Snowfields can linger well into the summer up here

Mowich Lake, where this hike starts and ends, is an excellent place for a swim (Mowich means 'deer' in the Chinook Jargon)