Hiking with your dog
Recreating in the Mt. Rainier National Park during the summer is about as good as it gets, so of course you’d want to share the experience with your four-legged best friend. Although, to protect the ecosystem and keep wildlife wild, pets are not allowed on trails in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Hiking and camping in the national park can be a challenge while leaving your pets behind. Dogs are only permitted where a car can go in the national park: in campgrounds, parking lots and no further than 25 feet from paved roads. Crystal Mountain is the perfect alternative nearby. It’s a haven for sightseers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who want the freedom to bring their dog along for a tail-wagging time.
Furry friends of all shapes and sizes are welcome on a variety of beginner to strenuous trail options throughout Crystal’s 2,600 acres of terrain. In the summer, dogs are cleared for take-off on the gondola for roundtrips, uploads and downloads, which is an exciting opportunity to get less suited for hiking, small and elderly dogs up into the mountains.
To keep your four-legged family members hydrated, we have stationed water bowls around the mountain, essential for hot days. To do your part in helping preserve our alpine ecosystem and watershed, don’t forget to pack it out! Poo bags are available around the base and summit areas. The last thing other hikers need is to step in an unwanted surprise, or see plastic bags scattered along the pristine trails and lakes.
If your group and canine companions are looking for some alpine adventure, then Elizabeth lake and the Henskin lakes are wonderful spots for the dogs to cool off with surrounding meadows of wildflowers and a picturesque hike to access the area.
Dogs are required to be on a leash while exploring around our slopes, and it’s important to keep in mind that other hikers, dogs, and potentially even horses may be encountered on the trails. If confrontations are of concern, consider heading for one of the less-traveled trails, such as Kelly’s Gap Road or the Northway Trail.
A spectacular way to cap off a day of hiking, fetch, swimming in lakes, wildflower sniffing, etc is to watch the sky around Mt. Rainer illuminates the summit as the sun passes below the mountains.
The Alta Crystal Hotel just down the road and the Alpine Inn at the base both offer pet-friendly accommodations. At the Alpine Inn there’s the bonus of having the Snorting Elk bar next door for a nightcap and late-night grub, while the Alpine Inn’s breakfast is also a delightful way to start your mountain adventures. Almost all of the dining options at Crystal have a pet-friendly set up for patio service or takeaway.
A trip to Crystal is incomparable to the city dog parks or any walks around the neighborhood. These mountains are sure to leave you and your furry friend counting the days until the next mountain trip is marked on the calendar.
Story & photos by Alex Moreno