Bicycling the Back Roads of Mt Rainier National Park

I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Mt. Rainier but this was definitely a first.

Last weekend we drove to the remote northwest corner of the National Park to bicycle the old Carbon River Road. It had been washed out back in 2006 due to major flooding and was permanently closed in 2008. Now it was the perfect place for a bike ride!

So after a quick stop by the Ranger Station

we entered the park and started our ride down the old road.

It starts out paved but quickly changes to compact dirt and gravel. It also starts out level but continues on with a slight incline.

Bob went ahead while I was distracted and stopped to take pictures.

Wouldn’t you?

We passed giant old-growth trees – Douglas Fir and fragrant Cedar – and lots of snags

and blowdowns, where sometimes the wood was mysteriously stacked.

And if this looks like rain forest, that’s because it is. The Carbon River Valley is inland temperate rain forest – thick, lush, fragrant, and beautiful – receiving between 70 and 90 inches of rain a year.

After three and a half miles we stopped for lunch next to the river, which comes from the Carbon Glacier. It was wild and deserted – just the kind of landscape where I would expect to see grizzly bears if I was in Montana or Alaska. Thankfully I was not. And none of the resident black bear came out to greet us either.

From here the road got bumpier and steeper so it was the perfect place for us to turn around.

Going back was fun with a lot less peddling and mostly downhill. And though I didn’t fly down the road like the young ones did on their mountain bikes, I was happy to be out there with them.

While Bob went to get the truck I peeked into the nearby rain forest trail and managed to get a few more pictures. If only I could capture the fragrance too and take it home with me!

Light rain began to fall as we headed back home and once again we were thankful that we live in Washington State and so close to beautiful Mt. Rainier National Park.

Celebrating this week’s 103rd anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service for Sunday Stills.Β 

~ Susanne

30 Comments on “Bicycling the Back Roads of Mt Rainier National Park

  1. Absolutely stunning images of your trip to this area, Susanne! The greens just pop against the gray day. Our national parks are wonderful jewels aren’t they?

    • Thank you so much! Our parks are a real treasure. I’m thankful that some had the foresight to preserve some of our wilderness for all to enjoy.

  2. That looks like a great place, whether biking or walking. I can see why you enjoyed the visit, Susanne. πŸ™‚
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Thanks Pete. Every time we visit Mt. Rainier there’s something new and wonderful to enjoy. This was our first time bicycling in the park and it was wonderful.

  3. Having grown up in a desert receiving less than 6 inches of rain annually, it is very hard for me to even conceive that much rain. But the forest is beautiful! I can almost smell it!

    • The desert is beautiful too! But I’m partial to the lush green forest having grown up in the Evergreen State. Thanks for your comment. 😊🌲

  4. What a beautiful, idyllic place so close to home…terrific how they keep these parks up as well…I don’t think, in our current political environment, that services like that get enough praise…

    • Totally agree! I’m thankful for those who fought for the creation of National Parks; and am also concerned about the possibility of them being whittled away for short-term financial gain. They are truly our national treasures and deserve to be protected for all to enjoy.

  5. Wow, just look at this place and those beautiful trees! I can only imagine what it was like to slowly make your way through this leafy paradise on your bike. Thanks for sharing and inspiring πŸ˜€

  6. Wonderful pictures! Those huge pine trees are amazing! I’ve been in this area but not in the park.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures! πŸ™‚ Mt Rainier is huge and there’s so much variety in each section of the park. I think most of the trees in this area are Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock.

  7. How fun! And I hadn’t thought about the fragrance till you mentioned it near the end but I’m sure that was wonderful in itself! 🌲🌲

  8. What a lovely corner tucked in at the foot of Mt. Ranier. Your images and thoughts are all lovely. And I know what you mean about that forest smell!

  9. Great pictures!!! Is this what paradise looks like. Thank your sharing. I am curious what type of camera you carry as you bike through the parks on the gravel trails?

    • Thank you! Yes, this is what paradise looks like; but not what Paradise looks like as there really is a Paradise in the park with a Visitor Center! 😁 This corner of the park is more remote. I carried my phone on this ride and probably my small camera too, sony rx100.

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