Have been wanting to take a ride up to the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier National Park for some time now, but have been waiting for a weekday to do it as the tourist traffic on the weekends can be a little heavy in the summer.
This is a pretty popular ride for Seattle-area cyclists; known for yielding fantastic scenery at the cost of one long, steady, but not-too-intense climb. There also is water available at the foot of the climb and at the top.
Sunrise is the highest paved road in the park, at 6,400 feet; the basic ride from the park entrance up to Sunrise and back is about 40 miles; I tacked on a few extra miles to make it 45 miles total with around 5,000 feet of climbing.
I started just at the northern entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park; this is about a two-hour drive from my house:
There is about a 5-mile steady climb into the park, then you turn off for the road up to the Sunrise Visitor Center. After cycling through a tunnel of trees for a few miles, you finally start to see some scenery at a creek crossing:
At the top, I think there is a legal requirement that you snap a pic of your bike in front of the elevation sign. That's Mt. Rainier in the back. BTW, if you're ever visiting, there are some great day hikes that leave from the Sunrise visitor center.
I know that 6400 feet is nothing to you Colorado types but if you live at sea level, it's something to think about when you're riding a bike...
Looking off to the east...
OK, now I'm cheating just a little bit - this pic is from a different trip to Sunrise (actually, it was my 50th birthday, and my present was a family hike). But this photo is just about a three minute walk from the parking lot of the visitor center; just wanted to show you what the view looks like from a slightly better angle. If you keep going for an hour or so you can cross the ridge in the foreground and you get a front-row view of the summit.
Back to the bike ride...
The descent - pretty good pavement quality, so you can relax (a bit) and just fly down the road you came up. Note a couple of other riders in this pic - there were so many bikes out today that several tourists asked me if there was an organized event today. As far as I know, it was all solo riders or folks riding in groups of two or three...must have seen a dozen riders on the way up and a similar number on the way down.
I started another climb (Cayuse Pass) after my ride up Sunrise and caught this photo on the way up...but due to a late start I got antsy, the traffic was getting heavier, I and decided to turn back to the car before finishing the climb to Cayuse. Will save that for another day, but caught this view of the mountain on the way back to the car:
All in all a great day; I am happy to have finally done this route that every experienced cyclist in Seattle has probably done at one time or another. Once you commit to making the drive out to do the ride, it's one of the better rides in the area in terms of scenery returned for effort invested.