Forum Index > Trail Talk > Trail Routes from Longmire to Paradise?
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peter707
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peter707
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PostWed Nov 30, 2022 10:44 pm 
Now that the gate is opening less often (and perhaps less reliably on the weekend), does anyone have experience taking the Wonderland Trail + Narada Falls Trail + Lower Lakes Trail to gain access to Paradise (about 5 miles one way?) There was a somewhat cryptic tweet suggesting not to ski down the road: https://twitter.com/MountRainierNPS/status/1598001185012998145?cxt=HHwWgoDT9Y7nnq0sAAAA Some of the key concerns of the trail route: 1. Is the Nisqually River bridge / crossing in? Anyone been out there in the winter? 2. Is the Paradise River bridge / crossing in? 3. Any notable avalanche slopes along the trail, or trail sections with notably poor runouts (for clumsy trail users on skis)? On the positive side, no need to wait until 9am to get up the trail! Time for some alpine starts...

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peter707
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PostWed Nov 30, 2022 11:24 pm 
Circled 4 parts on the map that looked interesting: 1. Nisqually River crossing 2. Under Ricksecker Point slope 3. Paradise River crossing 4. potential exposure near Narada Falls?

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thuja
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 5:41 am 
1. No bridge over the Nisqually river. The footlog gets taken out every fall. This is probably the trickiest part. 2. Getting past Narada falls could be tricky. Haven't tried it, but there is a steep, narrow section there that the trail squeezes through. From Narada Falls up to Paradise is definitely do-able and is marked with poles in winter. STAY OFF THE ROAD. You don't want to run into a plow or snow blower. They go up on the downhill side, down on the uphill side, right down the middle, and fast.

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philfort
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 7:30 am 
Pretty sure there is a bridge over the Paradise River. As for getting across the Nisqually, you could maybe cross on the bridge at Longmire and work your way up the east side of the river bed until you hit the Wonderland? Oh, but then you'd have to cross the Paradise low down where there's no bridge...

peter707
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Randito
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 8:03 am 
FWIW: I once participated in SAR operation on Eagle peak in February. We had to ford the Nisqually as the log is removed in winter. We also had to ford the Paradise as were we needed to cross isn't a normal crossing. It was during a cold stretch, so flow was low. Brought extra socks and full size foam mat for changing to dry socks after fording. If weather warmed up and flows increased, getting back could be more challenging.

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altasnob
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 8:29 am 
Up Rampart Ridge to Van Trump. Traverse and drop down to Nisqually Glacier (very steep, avy danger). Cross glacier (crevasse danger). Climb to Paradise (avy danger). I'd probably rather go this route as it involves no sketchy river crossings.

peter707
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Randito
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 9:07 am 
Van Trump park is an excellent destination. When you can drive to Paradise, most people don't want to put in the extra effort to get there. But if you are starting at Longmire, the Van Trump area seems like a better objective.

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joker
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 1:47 pm 
Apparently folks skiing at Paradise used to often have just the driver take the car down to Longmire, and the rest took what I've heard called The Devil's Dip route back down. I don't know what the route was, but if you're keen on weekday travel to Paradise, it might be worth researching

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peter707
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 9:08 pm 
I called the ranger office, and was surprised to hear that the Nisqually River bridge might be still in? I may have asked the question wrong, or perhaps the ranger was referring to the car bridge. If it's in the whole thing starts to look a bit better. Without that, I'm surprised by the decision to recommend 'the trail' as a route to paradise on twitter.
altasnob wrote:
Up Rampart Ridge to Van Trump. Traverse and drop down to Nisqually Glacier (very steep, avy danger). Cross glacier (crevasse danger). Climb to Paradise (avy danger). I'd probably rather go this route as it involves no sketchy river crossings.
I didn't consider this. It would effectively bypass the rivers. That's a lot of 'dangers' for one paragraph. I'd have to study the route more, I drew a random line that avoided cliffs on CalTopo but I don't think I'd do this route at my current glacier experience level.
Randito wrote:
FWIW: I once participated in SAR operation on Eagle peak in February. We had to ford the Nisqually as the log is removed in winter. We also had to ford the Paradise as were we needed to cross isn't a normal crossing. It was during a cold stretch, so flow was low. Brought extra socks and full size foam mat for changing to dry socks after fording. If weather warmed up and flows increased, getting back could be more challenging.
Quite a operation, Eagle Peak in February. I was thinking about going over that way, crossing the Nisqually down at Longmire, then heading east, going over a saddle near Wahpenayo Peak. I am not familiar with the area, I'd have to go in the summer and take a look first.
Considered routes, decided against
Considered routes, decided against
Randito wrote:
Van Trump park is an excellent destination. When you can drive to Paradise, most people don't want to put in the extra effort to get there. But if you are starting at Longmire, the Van Trump area seems like a better objective.
Thanks Randito, I think this is the answer for me. I'll give it a go if the gate is closed. Something like this?

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peter707
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PostThu Dec 01, 2022 9:31 pm 
joker wrote:
Apparently folks skiing at Paradise used to often have just the driver take the car down to Longmire, and the rest took what I've heard called The Devil's Dip route back down. I don't know what the route was, but if you're keen on weekday travel to Paradise, it might be worth researching
Neat! https://www.bivy.com/adventures/us/washington/devil's-dip-1703010 Looks like it goes to Paradise to Narada Falls. So still have to get up there somehow from Longmire.

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vogtski
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PostSun Dec 04, 2022 12:31 pm 
Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Thanks to the site operators for this great community resource! Peter- I think the single log with handrail is still across the Nisqually near Cougar Rock CG (maybe search WTA). It's a bit surprising it survived last month's flood as this crossing is frequently partially dislodged or completely washed out in winter. Sometimes there are natural drift logs after floods that can be used and in midwinter there can be usable ice dams downstream a few hundred yards at the large active avy path off Eagle Peak. One could wade the 15-20' Wonderland crossing with tall rubber boots & gaiters most of the winter, but that's a lot of extra weight to pack. Where the abandoned hydro powerhouse road across (E) from Cougar Rock ends in a small clearing is the largest avy runout off Ricksecker Point. There are several more not very obvious steep narrow runouts just beyond, where one can look right down to the Paradise River. These starting zones face south and are most active on warm afternoons after a storm. Most snowshoers seem to turn back at Carter Falls, but much of the lower trail can be a frozen twisting snowshoe trough, challenging to ski down without a good overnight snowfall. There are flat sections and reverse grades, so nordic or pattern-based alpine skis work best, especially between Cougar Rock and Longmire. The reliable Paradise River crossing below Narada is a pair of decked horse bridges, replaced just a few years ago. It can be difficult to find in deep new snow, especially from above, because of numerous snow-covered windfalls across the twin channels. About a quarter mile below Narada Falls is a small tributary stream that is usually an open crevasse in the deep snow, with a sharp turn onto a funky bridge when descending. The safety railings at the viewpoint below Narada Falls are often buried in snow on rock slabs. It's best to stay well back. Thuja is correct about the trail squeeze, You must find the right slot between the trees just as you pass the view area, but the exposure is short, maybe 5-10 yards. This spot is more difficult to find from above in deep snow. The winter route from Narada to Paradise begins on the north side of the heated comfort station and is marked by orange poles & signs. Philfort- A century ago there was a mule trail down the east bank from the mines near the base of Eagle Pk to the Longmire suspension bridge, but it is long gone, chewed away by the active river channel meanders. It would be much faster and drier to just cross once at Cougar Rock via the Wonderland Trail. Altasnob's suggestion seems about twice as long and uphill both ways. Randito has it right-o. Van Trump is worth a basecamp in the tree groves below Mildred Point via Rampart Ridge (~5 mi). It's like a smaller private Paradise. Just remember that the drainages lead to fatal waterfalls if the fog rolls in... I consider the Comet Falls trail to be the most difficult, unpleasant forest approach route on this side of The Mountain. There's no winter overnight parking at that trailhead, which the NPS should leave unplowed until Spring. Joker- 'Devils Dip' was the early skiers name for a steep little choke point on the mostly mellow marked trail descending from the east end of the main Paradise lot. It was used by winter visitors back when the model A plows could only get as far as Narada Falls. It's still a good choice for skiers when trailbreaking is difficult. You can take a few runs while waiting for somebody else to make an up-track above Paradise. Pardon me while I remember the good ole days: https://turns-all-year.com/trip-reports/dec-30-paradise-devil-s-dip-mrnp

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Bruce Albert
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PostSun Dec 04, 2022 4:11 pm 
Thanks for the details. My mother related skiing the Devils Dip in the WWII era, but was slim on details and can no longer be asked.
vogtski wrote:
I consider the Comet Falls trail to be the most difficult, unpleasant forest approach route on this side of The Mountain
The alternate route to Van Trump leaving from the Christine Falls TH but bypassing Comet Falls to the west is safe and straightforward with adequate snow cover. It is well described in the old Mueller guide or I can do so here if asked. Bummer about no overnite parking at Comet Falls TH. We barely won a knock down drag out battle to do so IN MAY back in the nineties. Probably no such luck anymore.

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vogtski
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PostWed Dec 07, 2022 7:16 am 
There's one additional possibility for accessing Paradise when the road is closed. When and if the snowpack on the gravel bar at the Cougar Rock Wonderland crossing is four feet or more (about double the current amount), it was possible in the recent past to follow the west bank of the Nisqually all the way under Glacier Bridge to the Nisqually Glacier terminus. The topo location of the river is outdated, of course, and the Pierce-Lewis county line muddles my Hillmap, but this scenic route essentially follows the approach of Muir's 1888 party that made the 4th ascent. They forded the river and scratched a horse trail up to what is now Canyon Rim turnout before Longmire built his toll trail up Paradise River. Take the Wonderland Trail 1.6 miles to Cougar Rock. Ignore the right turn & descent to the footlog location. Parallel the plowed road through and past the picnic area to where you are almost cut off by the road near the treeless river cutbank. There is (was?) a very moderate descending short traverse that starts north in the trees and lead to the gravel bars. In about another quarter-mile, one must cross Van Trump Creek, and a quarter mile further, Nahunta Creek. A shovel can be handy to make steps to & from rock-hopping locations. I did these numerous times with leather pinners and never got wet feet. These streams are small enough in cold weather to just pass skiis across. Just before Glacier Bridge, it's straightforward to boot 100vf up to the large plowed turnout. This could be used to scout this route on a weekend for weekday use. I prefer to carry skis across the oily drippage under the bridge. About a hundred yards further, one can thrash up to Tato Falls for the start of the 'Dream Bowl' route: https://turns-all-year.com/trip-reports/feb-7-wilson-glacier-scouting In recent years, the confluence of Tato Creek with the Nisqually has been difficult to pass, requiring a bit of sketchy booting just above the river. Beyond this confluence, there are usually several large drifts where one can cross the river and join the exit route from Nisqually Glacier. One could just walk across the plowed bridge, but this would be illegal on a weekday, of course ;o) The ice cave at the terminus of Nisqually Glacier is awesome, but this is not a good location to linger due to rockfall. There is so much rock on the lower glacier that crevasses are few, but there are frightening moulins.

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peter707
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vogtski
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PostWed Dec 07, 2022 1:09 pm 
Longmire to Narada Falls: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report.2022-12-06.6638229760 Tho not specifically mentioned, the Nisqually River footlog must still be passable. In my previous description, I forgot to mention that one of the slender avy runouts just above the hydro plant is a perennially snowless large log waterbar at the bottom of a considerable hill, perhaps a small warm spring?

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peter707
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peter707
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PostMon Dec 12, 2022 2:57 pm 
Photo of the still-in Nisqually River from u/TheBeardManDude on r/PNWHiking: https://www.reddit.com/r/PNWhiking/comments/zd9ksf/first_time_snowshoeing_was_a_success_thank_yall/

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