Gobblers Knob

Janet invited me to join her for a combination bike/hike trip. I have done some over the years. In this case we would drive to the gated parking lot on the Westside Road at Mt. Rainier NP. We would then ride bikes up to Round Pass, gaining about 1000' in 3.5 miles. From the old trailhead we would hike about 2.4 miles up to Gobblers Knob Lookout gaining another 1500'+. We would then retrace our route back to the car. The totals would be about 12 miles with 2500' of gain. It is 97 miles from my house to the trailhead. Janet picked me up. I had not ridden my mountain bike in three or four years but a quick ride around the neighborhood showed everything seemed to be working. We met at 6:30 am and headed for Mt. Rainier. All went well until we were almost to the park. The line of cars waiting to get in was one mile long. I knew it was popular but leaving Seattle at 6:30 am and having a one mile long line of cars? We finally entered the park and in less than  a mile turned off on the Westside Road. Three miles up we saw a car parked in a pullout. We did likewise. We were actually pretty close to the small parking lot.

Janet had biked the Westside Road twice. Once to Round Pass for a trip up Gobblers Knob. Once much farther for a hike up to Klapatche Park. I had walked the road from the old parking spot farther up to Tahoma Creek and the trail up to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground and Pyramid Peak. That was back on 7-29-2000. It had been just over 22 years. We packed up and had the bikes ready for a 9:32 am start. We biked up to and through the parking lot, past a barrier, and up to and around the gate where the parking lot used to be. A car was crushed by falling rocks and that moved the parking lot. Now we had no more barriers on the road. There are a few spots with loose rock early then the road becomes much smoother. I had to stop in one spot as my wheel spun. After that it was smooth sailing. We passed one woman motoring up the road with a good sized backpack. It was not the last time we saw her.

The road gets steeper in the second half. Not having done any biking the past few years, I was afraid I would not make it to the top without pushing my bike a little. I was pleased to not need to do so. The 1000' gained was easier than I expected. We made it to Round Pass and the old car parking lot at 10:43 am. We took a food and water break and locked up our bikes. Then the woman with the big pack zipped on by us. She said she was training and it seems to be paying off. Now we had the hiking part of the trip to enjoy. As with most Mt. Rainier trails, it was in excellent shape. We saw a park truck at the trailhead. They maintain the lookout and the trails by using the closed road. As I said, the trail is in excellent shape. Right off the bat, we started seeing saprophytes. Coral root especially butt some pine sap and pine drops too. It was warming up and the sky was clear but with the forest it was not all that hot.

After .90 miles we came to George Lake, It had a little green color. A nice big lake. Before the Westside Road was closed this was a very short hike. It must have been mobbed. We saw nobody else at the lake. In fact, we saw almost nobody from the trailhead to the lookout. Solitude in Mount Rainier National Park was possible this day. The trail gains over 1500' in 2.4 miles. The grade is mostly up but is never steep. There are no huge trees near the trail but some very large ones. Janet posed next to a couple of them. The biggest surprise to me is that there were several small meadows while climbing the steep hillside. The first one was full of white flowers. Closer observation showed they were avalanche lilies in full bloom. Janet had been at Summit Lake recently and the avalanche lilies were finished. Here, they were going strong. Farther up there is a big pond alongside the trail. We stopped for a break there. There were some more avalanche lilies blooming there.

The trail continues to switchback higher and we had some more wildflower sightings. Some columbine, Valerian, tiger lilies, penstemon, Bistort, and a single patch of magenta Indian paintbrush. Not a large display but quite a few varieties. We reached the junction with the Goat Lake Trail with .40 miles to go. That one comes from west of the park. We had a few peaks but not clear view of Mt. Rainier until right at the base of the Knob.  The trail winds around the back of the ridge and up to the top. There were half a dozen hikers on top. Two park people had spent the night in the lookout. They headed down just before us. This was our last meeting with the lone women hiker. She headed down before us.

The view of Mt. Rainier is spectacular. The west side is not often seen in photos of Rainier. It is much less of a round snow cone. It is impressive. We were very close but not like at Paradise where you are on the mountain. A near perfect viewpoint. We arrived at 1:07 pm. We stayed until 2:00 pm. Clouds had drifted in during our trip but the top of the mountain was in the clear. A narrow band of low clouds was in front but did not hide much. We had open sunshine and shade provided by the lookout building. There was no problem getting too warm or cold. There was a little bit of cool breeze that was appreciated. We could have spent all day up there but we still had to get down and then there was a long drive home. After 53 minutes on top, we headed down.

The hike down was not hard. The smooth soft trail made even the steeper spots easy enough. When we reached George Lake we stopped again. There is a patrol cabin that looks like it has had a lot of recent work. It is in great shape. Nearby is a shelter that is also in great shape. Most of the ones I see are almost falling down. A quick stop at the shore for shots of the lake with Mt. Wow in the background and we headed down. We reached the old parking lot/trailhead at 3:28 pm. Now it was time for the fun part. It is almost entirely downhill back to the car. I kept my speed down as there are some loose gravel spots and some slightly rocky bits. Mostly, it is just good road. We took exactly 30 minutes to reach the car. Less than half the time going up. At 7 mph, that is much faster than I have ever hiked.

When we left the park at around 4:30 pm there was a line of cars. Janet measured it at .80 miles. It was almost as long as the line in the morning. Paradise must have been a madhouse this day. This turned out to be a great trip. The weather was good but it was under 80 degrees for a change. The biking part went very well. I was able to ride all the way up and the downhill was just plain fun. The trail is very nice. The avalanche lilies were an unexpected bonus. The views were fantastic. The crowds were almost non-existent. Each year I aim for 10 new hikes or trail sections. This was my 16th this year. That is not easy to do after 40 years on the trails. Thanks to Janet for coming up with an excellent trip idea.

One added note. For my hiking log I count uphill miles on a bike but not downhill. I hardly ever pedaled for 3.5 miles. Therefore, I have logged this trip is 8 miles with 2500' of gain though we traveled more than 11 miles.

Parking Lot
Janet Leads The Way
Along Tahoma Creek
Rock Wall
Shady Road
Round Pass Trailhead
Ready To Hike
Trail Sign
First Rainier View
Coral Root
Near Lake George
Lake George
Avalanche Lily Meadow
Been & Avy Lily
Perfect Avalanche Lily
Janet & Big Tree
Another Avy Lily
Mt. Rainier In Sight
Lookout In Sight
Summit View Of Rainier
Close Up View
Elevation 5485'
Camp Robber Jay
Wide Angle Shot
Gobblers Knob Lookout
Mt. Wow
Indian Henry's Peaks
Rainier & Peaks
Inside Lookout
Tiger Lily
Sitka Valerian
Back To Pond
White Flower
Patrol Cabin
Lake George Shelter
Lake George Again
Pine Drop
Another Big Tree
Fuller Bike Rack
Time To Bike Down
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022