Our last day in Paradise had a bit of everything – mountain views, crystal clear lakes, wildflowers and wildlife. We woke up early and left the Paradise Inn for the trailhead to Bench Lake and Snow Lake, just a few miles down the road.
Stopping to look at wildflowers along the way,
we saw deer in the woods, always a treat.
We continued to Reflection Lakes where there was just a bit of reflecting under clear blue skies.
Soon after we arrived at the trailhead which was almost deserted.
The trail was moderate, 2.5 miles RT to Snow Lake, climbing through meadows and forest, with views of Mt. Rainier behind
and Unicorn Peak ahead.
Sometimes it was smooth and flat under open sunshine,
other times it was steep and rocky
with strange creatures seeming to rise out of the ground to grab me.
There were wildflowers and wildlife both seen and unseen – more on that later.
After a mile we arrived at a fork in the road.
Our original intention was to go to Bench Lake, but we heard from other hikers that the trail down to the lake was a bit of a scramble.
So we continued on to Snow Lake, a good decision it turns out as it was by far the prettier of the two.
After enjoying our snack and soaking in the beauty of the place we headed back down the trail. I scanned the nearby peaks looking for mountain goats – it seemed a perfect place for them to hang out – but came up short.
I should have been looking for bears. As we were coming down, some backpackers told Bob they’d seen a bear on the trail. He didn’t tell me until we were safely back at the car.
Why worry my pretty little head, right? 😉
According to the National Park Service website –
“The trail is a succession of gradual ups and downs as it crosses a series of low ridges. The path first reaches Bench Lake after .75 mile, then continues another .5 mile to Snow Lake. Most years these lakes do not melt out until late July and the trail can be muddy until then.. In mid-summer, this area explodes with a variety of wildflowers and an abundance of bear grass. In the fall, mountain ash and huckleberries color the scene. Quite visible is a silver forest of trees which remain from a past fire. Expect good views of Mount Rainier on clear days. There is always a chance of seeing black bears as well.”
Maybe next time. 🙂