There are endless loops in Mt Rainier National Park that will allow you some challenging day runs/treks and boast fabulous views.
This 13.5 mile loop doesn’t warrant a long entry, but is certainly worth mentioning, and showing off a few photos of the lovely views that pop up here and there!
The best route to take is clockwise, starting at the Kautz Creek trailhead. There is 4,000 feet of elevation gain on this loop, with most of it in the first three miles of switchbacks, so be prepared for a heart pounding start to your loop!
The first real “views” (Mt Adams in the background!) show up near the end of the switchbacks, and give a nice place to take a break and enjoy.
A little more climbing, and you hit the Wonderland Trail, making a little side trip to a patrol cabin for lunch. I wouldn’t mind staying here for a few nights! There was a Ranger here this day, and he said there had been some black bear sightings in the meadow, but we didn’t get to see him.
Onward down the Wonderland Trail is some great single-track with views on Mt Rainier, meadows, and flowers.
Once you hit the Ramparts trail, you have two options. Either the quick option of heading down and straight back to Longmire (where our bike was stashed to ride back to the car at Kautz Creek trailhead), or you could take the long route to Longmire along The Ramparts which is a nice rolling ridge with a few views. Of course we chose the ridge run, which only ads a few extra miles to the trip.
The “viewpoint” was a bit overgrown and there’s not much of a view of Longmire from there anymore, but the trail was fun to run, so definitely worth the extra miles.