This paved path is gentle, lollipop-shaped route to great glacier views. Often overlooked by the masses who descend on the Visitor Center area trails, you may achieve some much needed solitude on this excursion.
From the far western end of the lower (non-visitor center) parking lot, look for the stone steps that lead to a paved 3-way junction. Take the left fork for the Nisqually Vista Trail and soon cross Dead Horse Creek
. Hike along the "stem" of this lollipop shaped route through lush meadows overflowing with a variety of wildflowers. This is Rainier National Park at it's best.
Descend briefly to the where the trail branches for the "head" of the lollipop. Going right (in the counterclockwise direction) saves the best viewpoint for last. However, if it is already snowy at this intersection and you're trying to avoid icy spots, consider taking the left (clockwise) fork and covering this less snowy section of trail as an out-and-back to the main viewpoint. Either way you choose, hike through woods alternating with pretty fields and stop at the viewpoints along the way. An interpretive sign explains the Nisqually Glacier and the amazing forces that created this huge U-shaped valley. Check out the snout of the glacier and see if you can spot any waterfalls or ice chunks coming off the steep face. Like most glaciers in the world, Nisqually has receded greatly, leaving rocky mounds behind. Finish your outing by completing the loop and retracing your steps back along the "stem" to the parking lot.
This trail is a popular snowshoe trekking destination in the winter months.
Trail is being repaired and restored during the summer and fall of 2015. Expect work during weekdays, with temporary closures possible. (posted 7/1/15)
Deer, marmot. Lupine, Indian paintbrush.