Silver Forest Trail, Mt. Rainier N.P.
This route offers a perfect chance to see and experience a "silver forest" and to provide kids a learning experience as well. These stands of bright white trees can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest, thanks to the ever-present threat of wildfire. The silver forests are the standing skeletons of trees that were lashed by fast-moving, intensely hot forest fires. When the fires are hot enough and moving fast enough, they kill the trees and scorch many of the limbs and bark off but don't devour the entire trunk. As a result, entire forests are left standing, though they are dead and stripped of their "skin." Within a couple of years, the standing trunks are bleached white by exposure to the sun and wind, resulting in a shadowy stand of gray ghosts: the silver forest. When one of these shining woods is seen against a backdrop of emerald green meadows, brilliant blue skies, and a massive white mountain, the effect is amazing. You'd never think a dead forest could look so beautiful and vibrant. But that's just what you'll find here.
From the trailhead, locate the trail on the south side of the parking area and head south. At the first junction, almost immediately after starting down, stay left to turn east toward the Emmons Vista viewpoint. Continue east along this path, staying left at the next trail split.
The first 0.5 mile is known as the Emmons Vista Nature Trail. Stroll along this broad pathway, enjoying the stunning views back toward Mount Rainier and the long white river of the Emmons Glacier flowing off its northern face.
About 0.5 mile out, the trail extends into the silver forest. This glimmering wood is the remnant of the Sunrise wildfire that flashed through the area many years ago.
The trail ends at 1.2 miles on a knoll at the end of the Yakima Park ridge, high above the White River valley. Return the way you came.
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