OverviewThis route is the standard trail to the summit of Norse Peak. The is entirely Class 1 during summer and requires nothing more than good shoes, proper clothing and water once the snow melts out. However in winter and spring proper gear is needed on this trail like an ice axe and snowshoes and maybe crampons.
Getting ThereFROM ENUMCLAW VIA 410: Take 410 east for 33 miles until just before reaching the gate of Mt. Rainier National Park. Make a left on Crystal Mountain Blvd (7190) (paved) go roughly 4 1/4 miles. Turn on the dirt road on your left near the Sand Flat Horse Camp. Walk up the road passed the gate and the trail will be on your left roughly 200 yards. This peak is also very doable to the average hiker. It took us 2 1/4 up with extra gear on our backs for training and under 2 hours down.
This peak is can be reach by the YDS Class 1 Norse Peak Trail (Trail no. 1191). The 11.2 roundtrip 2800 foot elevation gain trail ascends the mountain via a large amount of switchbacks at a moderate pitch. The trail gets a little more gradual as it continues to rise. There looks to be series of side trail here that branch of but stay on the main trail as it gradual rises through the thick forest. At about 5000 feet of elevation the trail rise into some openings. Soon you can see the top of Rainier rising in the distance. As you go higher Mount Rainier becomes far more dramatic. Pass first the trail leading to Goat Lake (junctions on the left) and then when you are in the saddle and hit the y intersection, take the trail on the right that head uphill toward the summit area of Norse Peak.
It should be noted that just after the Y-intersection mentioned above we had to use our ice axe because there was angled snow that crossed here and covered the trail. You will not notice this section if you are hiking in season. However, like many peak is the Cascades during the offseason, always be prepared with the proper equipment.
For a more dramatic feel take the Class 2 ridge walk and pick up the back the trail in the pass just before the summit. It maybe slightly airy but views here are dramatic not to mention the wonderful feeling of being on a ridge. I personally viewed this ridge as my favorite section of the mountain. The broad summit is great with good views but is not nearly as dramatic as this ridge.
Essential GearThis is a 11.2 mile, 2800 elevation gain, YDS Class 1 walk up, so from July to October nothing special is needed except for a good camera and essential hiking gear.
In winter check conditions. You will definitely need one or all of the following: snowshoes, trekking poles, ice axe, crampons