Burroughs Mountain (Mount Rainier Nat'l Park)
This run starts from the Sunrise Visitor's Center in Mt Rainier NP, the highest place you can drive to in the park. I did this on a gorgeous mid-September weekend day. The trail winds up towards Frozen Lake to a multi-way trail intersection. From here, one trail makes its way to the west to a fire lookout (also a great trip), the Wonderland Trail continues straight ahead through alpine meadows, eventually winding down to the Carbon River and continuing all the way around the massif, and the trail to Burroughs Mountain climbs steeply to the left. I went left, crossing several snowfields still lingering, reaching Burroughs Mountain shortly, then dipping down across a saddle and climbing again to 2nd Burroughs Mountain. After a brief pause at the summit, I returned the way I came and then took the alternate route back to Sunrise along the Rim trail, with views aplenty across the Emmons Glacier. Overall, this was a great outing even if I found it to be a little steep for continuous running on the uphill (especially given the altitude).
Topo map and route for Burroughs Mountain loop
Grand Park (Mount Rainier Nat'l Park)
The weather forecast didn't look great on this weekend in September, but I wanted to get up high in the mountains to enjoy some trails that aren't often snow-free. I had done Grand Park before as a day hike, so I knew it would be good. The trail starts on USFS land just outside the park boundary, entering the park after a short half-mile of rudimentary trail, then climbs up to Grand Park in about 2.5-3 miles, which is where the real fun begins. Grand Park is a huge mountain meadow, flat as a pancake with trees only at the perimeter and a few stands of dying conifers interspersed throughout. It really is a surreal place. On this foggy, drizzly day, I only caught glimpses of the massive Mount Rainier looming overhead (on a clear day, the mountain dominates the view). It was almost more intense and surreal in the landscape with the clouds and mist because my visual focus was not distracted by the glaciers and slopes above. Running through the park is entirely pleasurable and offers a nice respite from the climbing trail (approx. 1,500 feet elevation gain) on the way up, which had a few sections steep enough to be walked. Once the trail intersected the Wonderland Trail, I turned around, back through Grand Park and then into the woods for a fast fun descent back to the car.
Topo map and route for Grand Park run
Grand Ridge (Olympic Nat'l Park)
This is a spectacular ridge run beginning at Obstruction Point, southeast of Hurricane Ridge. Once you brave the narrow winding Obstruction Point Road, the fun begins at a small trailhead that seems worlds away from the crowded scene at Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center. I chose an October weekend day with a variable weather forecast, but hit the nail on the head with the weather window. As I neared the trailhead, clouds gave way to partial sun. Running the ridge southeast from the trailhead affords constant views of the Olympic Mountains, cloaked in fresh snow this fall season. Clouds and fog in the valleys below whisped over the ridge on occasion adding to the wild feel. This run can be done as a point-to-point if you coordinate another car at the other end, but I was flying solo today and decided to turn around at Maiden Peak. There is one lengthy steep section on the return that forced me to slow to a walk, but otherwise this trail is completely runnable. Definitely a "must do" for those that enjoy running in the high mountains.
Looking out over the Olympic Peaks from Grand Ridge
Running on the Ridge
Topo map and route for Grand Ridge run