The Famous Lookout
Sun Top a gem of summit located on Highway 410 is an excellent hiking, biking and skiing destination in the Mount Rainier ares. The summit is quiet popular with hikers, snowshoers, mountain bikers and skiers. This ia due to the fact that Sun Top has an access road all the way to the summit area. Depending on the time of year that could mean all of the above. There is also a nice trail around the summit area that leads to other destinations from around the Sun Top area.
The Lookout with the mountains in the distance
In winter this becomes a 9 to 10 mile snowshoe depending on how you decided to end your trip to the summit. For the most part this a road walk turned snow slog up thick second growth forest all the to the summit and if you do the road completely it is 10 miles roundtrip. Though many people start on this trail you will quiet surprised at how few actually complete the snow slog. Out of eight cars in the parking only our group and one other made it. There are excellent views on the summit however the slog for the first four miles can leave a lot to be desired.
The shed in the foreground frames this photo
If snow conditions are stable and you are properly equiped you can choose to leave the main road and cutoff up the steep open slopes to the summit. That will cut your distances by a mile and you will be starting right at a marked trailhead just south of the summit area. Make sure there is adaquate snow before attempting that route. There is a note warning of potential avalanche conditions toward the end to Sun Top. I did not see anything that was overly avalanche prone, however it will be smart to use good caution and avoid this mountain if the avalanche danger considerable or above.
It should be noted that the Sun Top Lookout is not only locked in winter, it also has a security system and you can actually hear the alarm if you get close to the lookout. Do not attempt to break in to the lookout because if you do you will probably will face federal trepassing charges.
Looking up at Sun Top from the road
Rainier in the background
VIA THE SNO PARK TRAIL: From Enumclaw take 410 24.8 miles. You will pass Greenwater roughly 4 miles before your turnoff. Make a right onto USFS Road 73 south and take the road for 1.4 miles. Be prepared for that road to be icy (bring chains).
TO CONTINUE UP THE SUN TOP ROAD: From Enumclaw take 410 24.8 miles. You will pass Greenwater roughly 4 miles before your turnoff. Make a right onto USFS Road 73 south and take the road for 1.4 miles. Make a left onto USFS 7153 and take it 5 miles to the foot of the summit of Sun Top.
In the summer a Northwest Forest Pass ($5 a day; $30 for the year) is required for any parking area on this mountain. In winter a Sno-Park Pass is required ($21 for the day; $42 for the year) to snowshoe or ski up Sun Top. When I was there the trails were not groomed in winter. Chains are required by law on the last stretch of 410. Without them you are risking a very stiff fine.
Camping far away from the summit and the road is legal. However do not attempt to break in to the lookout because if you do you will probably will face federal trepassing charges. We could hear a security alarm from outside the door.
External Links THe wiki link with information on Sun Top
Official Sno Park Information Here