Cities Journal

Mount Rainier’s Imposing Glaciated Peak

Mount Rainier’s ice-covered peak boils beneath the surface.

When people think about volcanoes, they often think of hot lava spilling over the Hawaiian Islands. Washington’s Cascades, part of a range stretching from British Columbia to California, are home to a very different kind of volcano.

The most ice-covered peak in the 48 mainland states, Mount Rainier, is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most active volcanoes. Standing more than 14,000 feet above sea level, it is also the highest of the 2,700 peaks in the state.

The advanced climb up Mount Rainier is a 9,000-foot increase in elevation that stretches over eight miles, and even expert climbers have lost their lives here. From the top, on clear days, climbers are able to see across state lines to the top of Oregon’s Mount Hood. With over 260 miles of maintained trails at Mount Rainier National Park, there is no need to summit the peak to enjoy the scenery.

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