Norse Peak, the signature peak in the Norse Peak Wilderness area is a moderately popular peak near the Mount Rainier National Park. Located near the Crystal Mountain this mountain is well known for its great views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Crystal Mountain, Nelson Ridge and many other classic mountains in the Mount Rainier area. Views here are classics, especially of Mount Rainier so a camera is a must if you are trying for this mountain. When we were up there we had direct views of Adams and Rainier, partial views of St. Helens, Glacier and Hood, and very distant views of Mount Baker.
Norse Peak is moderately in the rain shadow of Mount Rainier, which means that storms off the Pacific Ocean tend to be weaker on this side of Mount Rainier than on the other windward side. That being said, the rain shadow is not quite as strong as peak further east such as Mount Aix or the Teanaway Region. Still compared to many of I-90 peaks, the weather here is a little less extreme.
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.
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.
The best times to do this mountain is from June to early November. It can be done in winter but pack accordingly, which usually means an ice axe, snowshoes and crampons.