Mt. Rainier (Paradise) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

4
FIETS
22 mi
DISTANCE
3,636 ft
GAINED
3.1 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Kyle Stanton-Wyman, North Bend, WA; Steve Jones, Olympia, WA;

INTRO

Mount Rainier, at 14,411 feet, is the highest peak in Washington State and the fifth highest in the contiguous United States. It is also the highest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48. This is a climb that gives us views of one of the most prominent and impressive peaks in the US - Mt. Rainier is the third most prominent peak in the United States (behind Denali and Mauna Kea).  
This climb is all about beauty and views of iconic Mt. Ranier, not the gradient - The average grade is 3.1%, and 77% of the climb (16.9 miles) are in the 0-5% grade. The steepest quarter-mile is a very manageable 6.7%.  

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Excellent.

Traffic:  The climb is in Mount Rainier National Park and traffic is mild to moderate. 

Parking:  At the beginning of the climb - Map; Street View. 
Provisions:  There are several locations for food and drink along the climb.  At the finish is the high quality and popular Paradise Inn Dining Room -  Map; Street View. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
Consider staying at the historic and rustic Paradise Inn and hike along with your bike climb.  Alternatively, you could stay in one of the many unique and cozy mountain cabins in and near Paradise.

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - wooden sign hanging above entrance surrounded by trees reads "Mt. Rainier National Park"

Mount Rainier National Park – Nisqually River Entrance

Ride 22 miles gaining 3,635’ at 3.1% average grade

to the Henry Jackson Visitor Center (western approach).

Cycling Mt. Rainier - bike parked in front of NPS sign for Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier is located in the Cascade subrange of the Pacific Coast Mountain Range and is the highest point in Washington state at 14,417’.

photo collage, bike parked in front of NPS sign for Gifford Pinchot National Park, bike parked in front of roadsign for Paradise and Stevens Canyon, views of snow-covered Mt. Rainier from road bike, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - Mt. Rainier as seen in the distance with Seattle city skyline in foreground, taken from Kerry Park in Queen Anne, Seattle

Mt. Rainier as seen from Kerry Park in Seattle.

Climb report from PJAMM Cycling’s Steve Jones of Olympia, Washington.

thick pine trees surrounding dirt road with handmade wooden sign reading "Path to Paradise"

Mount Rainier, at 14,411 feet, is the highest peak in Washington State and the fifth highest in the contiguous United States.  It is also the highest concentration of glaciers in the lower 48.

car parked on evergreen shrouded roadway, road signs for Ashford, Tacoma, and Paradise

Two roads allow cyclists to travel high on the mountain:  Sunrise Road (6,400 ft.) on the eastern side of the peak, and Paradise Road (5,416 ft.) on the southern slopes.  The latter is the most popular destination for tourists (and cyclists) because of its accessibility from the population centers of Puget Sound. Paradise is also the highest point achieved on the annual 156-mile RAMROD cycling event (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day).

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - cyclist wearing white and green PJAMM Cycling jersey leans against low stone retaining wall in front of Christine Falls

Christine Falls.

The Paradise Visitors Center (full services) is an 18-mile, 3,400-foot climb from the park’s Nisqually River Entrance.  Logical places to start the ride include the Ashford County Park (water, restrooms, parking) on the west edge of the small town of Ashford (full services), six miles outside the park entrance, or the Kautz Creek pull-out, three miles inside the park (parking, restrooms, no water).

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - cyclist wearing white and green PJAMM Cycling jersey stands with bike looking out at creek bed from the Nisqually River Bridge

Nisqually River Bridge.

Photo collage, views of rocky landscape with evergreen covered mountains in background, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Starting from the park entrance (2,003 ft.), the park headquarters at Longmire (2,757 ft., full services) is reached after five miles, the gradient increases notably, and the switchbacks begin, as do scenic vistas of the mountain, the Nisqually River, and Christine and Narada Falls.  From Paradise, cyclists can traverse one mile to aptly named Reflection Lakes (often snow-covered) and continue to descend Stevens Canyon to the eastern edge of the park at Ohanapecosh (1,914 ft.), or descend back to the Nisqually entrance.

Photo collage, views looking up at huge evergreen trees, roadside waterfall, lush green surroundings, snow-capped Mt. Rainier in distance, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - cyclist riding on Paradise Road, evergreen trees grow along mountainside, snow capped mountains in background

The Paradise Road.

bike parked in front of cross section of a huge Douglas fir tree

Douglas Fir exhibit at Longmire Museum - Mile 10.5

close ups of some of the year markers on the rings of the Douglas fir tree, including 1293 when the fir began to grow, 1480 when Mt. Saint Helens erupted, 1805 when Lewis & Clark reached the PNW, and 1963 when the tree was cut down

Dates in the life of a really old tree.

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance looking down on Narada Falls and the Paradise Road from above, parking lot and falls can be seen among thick evergreen tree forestation

Narada Falls and the Paradise Road.

The interior of the Paradise Inn, a 1916 guest lodge listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is worth viewing.

Due to recent repaving, the descent from Paradise is fast and smooth.  The park has a single-file rule for cyclists; please observe.

Historic photo of interior of the Paradise Inn, next to a current photo of the outside of the inn, Mt. Rainier in the background

Photos - NPS.

History of the lodge:

As the need increased for a hotel and other services in the Paradise area, a corporation of local Tacoma businessmen from Tacoma formed the Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) and began construction of the Paradise Inn. John Reese sold his camp to RNPC in 1916 to house construction crews as they worked on the new first-class Paradise Inn. In spite of the short construction season, the crew nearly completed the Paradise Inn during the summer of 1916 at an initial cost of $91,000, not including furnishings or equipment. His decorative woodwork that still exists today was designed by Hans Frahnke, a German carpenter, who stayed in the inn during the winter of 1919. His craftsmanship includes imposing cedar chairs and tables, a rustic piano, and an ornate grandfather clock.  (Mt. Rainier Guest Services - Paradise Lodge). 

Mt. Rainier was first ascended in 1870 by Hazard Stevens and Philemon Van Trump.  The fourth ascent was made in 1888 by John Muir.

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - cyclist stands with bike at Paradise, snow capped mountain behind him

Paradise (5,416 ft.).

Cycling Mt. Rainier from Nisqually River Entrance - three cyclists standing in front of Reflection Lakes, snow, snow capped mountains, and dense evergreen forestation behind them

Dennis Peck, Rick Peterson, and Steve Jones at Reflection Lakes.

PJAMM Cyclists pose for photos with Mt. Rainier peak behind them, from Inspiration Point

If you turn right at Ruby Falls (mile 19.9) and drive a half mile south to Inspiration Point,

 you’ll get photo opps like those above with the awesome Mt. Rainier backdrop.

Thank you Mollie and Daniel!!