Rooty and rocky with several steep short pitches. Can be muddy.
This trail starts from the entrance station and associated parking lot in the NW corner of the park off Mowich Lake Rd. One unique characteristic of this out-and-back route is that you lose all the elevation right away and need to save energy for the return trip uphill.
Begin running downhill into the valley holding Meadow Creek. This densely forested area is home to a variety of birds and other creatures and without the traffic found on other Rainier National Park trails, you have a good chance of spotting some here. Continue south on a slight ascent, traversing the western flank of Paul Peak. Turn sharply east at a prominent ridge and soon begin a very tightly switchbacking descent. The trail narrows here and some of these turns are extremely sharp with off-camber sections. The best views of Rainier and the Mowitch River valley are at the spot with the most blown over trees.
Although the Paul Peak trail officially ends at the junction with the Wonderland Trail
, many people prefer to extend their journey by turning right (east) to descend the Wonderland Trail
until it hits the Mowich River. The new bridge makes a good destination and spot for a break.
Ferns, wildflowers, deer, squirrels.