Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Three Lakes Trail offers solitude at crowded Mount Rainier National Park

September 17, 2010, 6:45 am

Even on summer weekends when Mount Rainier National Park is teeming with visitors there is a simple trick for finding solitude.

“Usually if you pick the trail that looks the least appealing and that is not close to the mountain and doesn’t have views you can find solitude,” said backcountry ranger Jennifer Rudnick.

One of the best examples is Three Lakes in the quiet southeast corner of the park.

On a July weekend while cars packed the parking lot at Paradise, nobody was on the Laughingwater Trail, the path that runs from state Route 123 for six miles to Three Lakes.

A logbook with a rusty spiral binding stashed behind the patrol cabin showed just how few visitors this area really gets.

There were six entries for the year as of mid-July and just two for all of 2009. The backcountry campsites were unused and the cabin was sealed, a wood crate over the chimney to keep out the wildlife.

The only signs of recent visitors were deer hoof prints in the mud and some bear scat near the third lake.

“It’s a long, uphill slog through the trees to a place with no views,” said backcountry ranger Daniel Keebler. “It’s not frequented.”

You can fish in the lakes, but the action is rarely very good, Rudnick said. And the mosquitoes can be miserable from May to late September.

With endorsements like these, it’s easy to see why so few people ever visit Three Lakes. But if you cherish solitude more than views, it is a destination worth visiting.

A quick look at the visitor log shows why some people enjoy Three Lakes. The few entries mostly echo the same sentiment: A perfect place to get away, take pleasure in the silence and enjoy some introspection.