We are an active family and love outdoors activities like hiking. My youngest daughter is handicapped, so it is my challenge to find trails that work for her. Often times ski resorts have level trails that provide great options for accessible hiking. This was our first visit to the White Pass ski area, located at the summit of US 12 – 12 miles southeast of Mount Rainier National Park so we weren’t sure what to expect. What we found was a fairly accessible hike with fantastic views, and made some friends along the way. It was a fun way to spend the day.
First of all, let me qualify “fairly accessible.” You can’t bring a standard wheelchair on these trails – they are at best dirt and rocks, and include some steep hills. We used a modified jogging stroller and there were a couple of times that both my husband and I needed to help get her through an area. But in our case this was very doable; it’s not a large ski resort, so it’s not a long hike, and my daughter is light enough to lift her stroller when we need to.
It was so beautiful and peaceful, most of the time it was just us, but there were some people we saw along the way; a family picking mountain blueberries, other hikers. White Pass is part of the Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada (http://www.pcta.org/about_trail/overview.asp), so occasionally we’d run into a backpacker who had been hiking for weeks. Uh, no thank you.
Tips for Hiking at White Pass
My best tip? Bring bug spray, seriously, do not forget the bug spray. There were no bugs at first, but as we got close to the top there were some mosquitoes and biting flies. Yuck. By the time we noticed them we were so close to the top that the mountain had sucked us in and we just had to reach the pinnacle.
Be sure to drive through Mount Rainier National Park. There is a park fee, but it’s definitely worth it.
Bring a picnic lunch and snacks. The last town you see before your reach the White Pass summit is the small town of Packwood, where you’ll find some restaurants and accommodations. On the other side of the pass toward Yakima are several campgrounds, lakes, a river and fishing areas. Food options are few and far between. There are many beautiful spots for a picnic.
Do you have a favorite accessible hiking trail? Please share, I’d love to hear about it.
Karin Sheets is a techie, travel writer and mother of two teens, one of them with special needs. She encourages all families to live the adventure of life. Her personal blog is www.specialneedstravelmom.com and you can follow her @ionMyAdventures on Twitter or www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsTravelMom.