Hiking the trail between the Narada Falls viewpoint and Reflection Lakes is pleasant enough. But you can extend the route into a loop featuring an unobstructed view of the Tatoosh Range from a rocky bluff, and an up-close experience of the awe-inspiring whitewater cascades of the Paradise River. Obtain a free copy of the “Paradise Area Trails” map from the Longmire Wilderness Information Center or Paradise Visitor Center to make this route even easier to follow. From the Narada Falls parking lot, cross the beautiful stone bridge and start downhill on the well-defined trail. Often damp, the trail drops moderately steeply 0.1 mile to a prominent viewpoint. The falls are best seen after mid-morning, when they can be fully illuminated on sunny days. Swirling mists can make the viewing area wet at any time of day. Continue downhill, leaving the crowds behind. At 0.2 mile is a ‘T’ junction with the Wonderland Trail. Go left and start climbing through pleasant shaded forest. The trail is lined with vegetation, predominantly vanilla leaf, blueberries, and ferns. Climb steadily to 0.8 mile, where you crest over a small pass and begin a gentle descent. At 1.3 miles, cross the Stevens Canyon Road and pick up the trail on the opposite side. At a junction with the “Lakes Trail”, go right and round the corner to the first and largest of the Reflection Lakes at 1.5 miles. (This junction offers a loop option of 3 miles.) To complete the recommended 5-mile loop, continue past the middle of the first lake, where the trail becomes a raised paved walkway beside the road. After 400 yards of pavement, follow the trail away from the highway to a junction at 2.0 miles. Go left on the trail also signed as “Lakes Trail”. Back in shady forest, climb on graveled soil to 2.5 miles, where the trail breaks out at Faraway Rock. This is an airy precipice with an outstanding 180-degree view including Stevens Canyon to the east, sparkling Louise Lake below, and the magnificent Tatoosh Range dominating the southern horizon. Pass a small tarn to reach another junction at 2.7 miles. Go left on the High Lakes Trail (or Lakes High Trail as the sign reads). Follow this route, which is mostly level with limited views and occasional ruts, to a junction at 3.8 miles with the other Lakes Trail. From here, the route is the same for either loop. Follow the sign toward Paradise, soon coming to a road. Cross it and pick up the trail at the far right of the wide gravel pullout. Almost immediately you reach the Paradise River and the first of many pleasant riverside viewpoints. Cross the river on a wooden bridge then descend to another road crossing. This one has two-way traffic with limited sight distance. You need to cross the bridge and the road to resume the trail at a small waterfall just below the bridge. Over the next quarter mile, the river churns and drops through a beautiful sequence of cascades, making photography stops almost mandatory. At 5.0 miles, the trail exits adjacent the restrooms at Narada Falls.
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Reflection Lakes - Mount Rainier NP
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