Indian Henry's Hunting Ground (Jul 15, 2017)

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indian_henrys_hunting_ground_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Mount Rainier West
Area: Mount Rainier, Paradise
Reference: Day Hiking Mount Rainier
Stats: 13.6mi, 3434' gain (for the loop)

How is it that I've lived in WA State almost 20 years and I've never been to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground? I've been on lots of the trails around it...and a few years ago I looked down on it from Mt Ararat...but I've never been there until today. Some friends hiked it last week and the photos really got me eager to make the visit. Steve was busy with a first aid class so it was the perfect time to do the trip.

I left home early, 5am, because I knew it would be a long day. I arrived at Longmire before 7am. I didn't have much gear to sort out and with the warm weather I could travel kinda light, so I was on the trail just before 7am. I could have parked a bit higher up the road to Paradise but figured a bit more hiking would do me good. The Wonderland Trail starts out right near the Wilderness Information Center at Longmire and dives right into the trees (elev 2759'). Nice. I knew the day was going to be warm so trees could be my friend today. The trail cuts a switchback in the road and crosses it at .6mi (elev 2816') and then it was back into the trees.

Then...time to do some climbing. The trail heads steeply uphill and it was here that I was glad for the trees. It was already warm. At about 2.12mi (elev 3841') I reached the junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail. Instead of heading left, I went straight and from here the trail heads downhill (easy at first, then steeper switchbacks) to a log crossing of Kautz Creek at 3.06mi (elev 3657'). The trail winds through a braided wide river bottom before reaching the log crossing of Pyramid Creek at 3.53mi (elev 3727').

Now it was time to climb again. This time it wasn't as steep as heading up Rampart Ridge but the gain was more and it was steady. Just before reaching Devil's Dream Camp I started seeing lot and lots of avalanche lilies. Shortly after the avalanche lilies started I hiked through the campsites and was glad to find minimal bugs. Now there were bugs...and I have the bites to prove it...but nothing bad enough that I needed to use the bug dope.

At 6.07mi (elev 5072') I reached Squaw Lake and got my first views (obstructed) of Mt Rainier. The avalanche lilies were going crazy strong around the lakes. From here the steepness of the trail eased up the rest of the way to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. I barely noticed the cabin and was shocked when it finally did appear (7.02mi, elev 5342'). I had been preoccupied photographing the flowers on the hike up. Besides the avalanche lilies there were lots saprophytes in the trees. I forgot that this area of the park was one of those places I could count on seeing them this time of year. First it was coralroot...lots of it. Then it was candystick...two small clumps on the side of the trail. Then it was pinesap...again...lots of it.

The patrol cabin needed to be my turnaround spot. I really would have liked to have gone further but I was already going to have a long hike and a long day. I didn't have time to go further. I found a nice rock along the trial and in the shade so I stopped to have lunch. I could hear some radio communications coming from the patrol cabin. The ranger popped out onto the porch and I waved hello. It would be nice to check the cabin out but I didn't want to intrude. Just before lunch another hiker came by, headed over to the cabin, and started chatting with the ranger. OK I said to myself...I wouldn't be intruding if it was just a short visit. I headed over, the ranger gave us a tour of the inside of the cabin, and then it was time for me to start the hike out.

I did a bit of searching on the patrol cabin. Wikipedia says it was built in 1915-1916 and it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 3/13,1991. Wow! The view of the cabin from the trail with Mount Rainier looming in the back so close...the view will take your breath away. The setting is gorgeous.
Indian Henry's Slideshow

indian_henrys_hunting _ground_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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