Grand Park Trail is a 9 mile out and back trail located near Buckley, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from July until October.
I've wanted to stand in the middle of Grand Park since first seeing it from Fremont Lookout last year. Who would have thought this hike would still be accessible in November! Taking advantage of the unusual sunny weather I high tailed it to the Lake Eleanor trail head loaded with cold weather gear "just in case".
The road to the trail head is in good condition with only a few potholes that are easily avoided. There are two small parking areas just past the trail head that can hold about 5 cars each. The trail to Lake Eleanor has quite a few muddy spots and several sections with standing water that take careful navigation if you don't have waders. Thankfully someone has placed rocks, branches and sections of tree trunks here and there to help hikers cross these areas.
Lake Eleanor is a 1 mile mild to moderate climb. I took a few minutes to admire the lake and camp sites then continued onward and upward. The next mile is a mix of ups and downs and through a beautiful small meadow complete with a tarn, through more woods and over a cheerful creek. The last mile is up, up and more up. You'll know Grand Park is near as the trail starts to level off and crosses through a couple of small clearings. I kept thinking "is this it?" at each clearing, but once entering Grand Park, there is no doubt.
Grand Park, what an amazing place! It feels like the meadow goes on forever. There is plenty of time to soak in the views while walking through the Park and soak it up I did. Blue sky, the sun shining above Mt. Rainier and Mt. Fremont lookout clearly visible. I turned around about 3/4 of the way across the Park because of a growing foot pain, but will certainly be back to complete the hike. The air definitely has a bite to it in the lower elevations of this hike but the Park was warm enough to raise a sweat just strolling along. No cold weather gear needed today!
There were a few mosquitoes out, surprisingly, but not enough to be a bother.
I really wanted to like this hike but it is far from my favorite. Looking back at the hike, we will probably not return for another season. Starting with the drive from FR 73, it is a winding, gravel road upwards and is in pretty good condition...some good sized potholes to watch out for. Parking is like other reviews say after you cross Eleanor creek on the right side, a small space for a handful of cars but overflow parks on the side of the row upwards of the lot. The lot was full when we arrived at 10am on a nice Saturday. We parked on the side of the road, maybe the 12th car parked. The trailhead begins going back across the creek and is on the opposite said of the parking. The trail is slightly overgrown and muddy in some parts. Has lots of bugs! Me and my husband both got stung, at the SAME time! So watch out for that. The first meadow arrived after about 1.5 miles or so. It was fairly short and back into the forest for a good haul upwards...it was not difficult, just one of those hills where you have to put your head down and grind it out. I feel like most of the hike took place in this second wooded area. Then you come out in the second meadow which is beautiful! Beautiful views of rainier and her glaciers. It really was a great view I have not seen of her in such close proximity. You can see Mt. Fremont Lookout up on the ridge to the left as you are walking towards Rainier. It was good while it lasted but then turned back to go home. Quite a few people we passed on the way back. The side road parking increased significantly while we were out. For such an out of the way trail, it was pretty popular in my opinion.
Amazing, pretty flat, not hard or moderate. Relatively flat. Even without a view of Mt Rainer on this rainy day, it was still gorgeous. Lake Eleanor and the Park was amazing. Will go back on a clear day.
Yeah, absolutely amazing hike. Don't be put off by the "hard" rating. It's not. There's still a couple smallish snow patches you hit and it's still boggy from the melting snow, but the views and experience are terrific. I'll point out that the trailhead is NOT marked. As you hit the curve and cross over eleanor creek, there's a little parking area good for about 4 or 5 cars. The TH is across from this. You should be able to see it.
Easy hike with gorgeous views. Be mindful of bees, two out of three of our party got stung.
Beautiful Hike! I went early on Saturday and was on the trail before 7 and saw 1 other couple. I wouldn't rate it as difficult at all. The small, friendly trail winds through the forest for the first mile or two with a little elevation gain. Only a few moderate inclines and a few boggy areas. When the trail opens into the "park" at the top of the hill the views become increasingly more breathtaking. The tree lined meadow looks to be at least a mile across surrounded by tree stands. Elk were all around tucked in the trees "talking" to one another. the trail terminates at a junction at the top of the meadow. I took left for another mile and found a hidden path in the trees on the right to a perch on a cliff overlooking a deep glacial valley and Mt Rainier.