From Evergreen Trail Guide
Suntop view provides an excellent view of Mt. Rainier that can only be equaled or surpassed by only a few trails open to bikes. A marvelous view from the top, the trail is fairly groomed and straight. Nice forest with open fast easier trail.
This can be ridden as several variations: loop (most commonly finishing on the Skookum Flats trail or the road), shuttle since there is parking at the top, or out and back (for the very ambitious climber).
The most popular route is a loop: park at the lower Skookum Flats parking area, climb the forest road, descend the trail, and finish with Skookum Flats. Some choose to access the last third of the trail by starting at Skookum Flats upper trailhead parking on Forest Road 7160. Climbing up the same forest road, ignoring 1 spur to the right, and ignoring a spur to the left. Very close to the end of the road the trail crosses, this route is commonly referred to as "Fawn Ridge".
How to find it
- Hwy 410 southeast for 25 miles
- Right on Rd 73 just after mile maker 49 (just after the Mt Rainier vantage point)
- Drive over the bridge and park on the right at the lower Skookum Flats parking area (NW Forest Pass Required)
- Ride your bike to the right out of the parking lot to continue onto Rd 73.
Do everything above except park
- Continue on Rd 73 for about 1 mile until a fork in the road
- Left at the fork onto Rd 7315 (There's a sign for the Suntop Lookout)
- Continue 5 miles to the trailhead and parking area. Ignore smaller spur roads.
Fast and flowy, minimal dismounts, heavy canopy, well-drained. Suntop lookout is at 5200', so check snow levels before you head out.
(Also see Skookum Flats if you're taking it back to the parking on FS 73)
July 21 2012. We did the CCW Suntop/ Skookum loop starting at the gate on the fire road. Trail is in great shape, no mud or snow on the trail. Patches of snow off the trail at higher elevations. Only encountered one blowdown. Summer flowers are in bloom and the views are spectacular! Took about 5 1/2 hours. Highly recommend this ride! Take lots of water and snacks.
Loop: Take a right out of the lower Skookum Flats parking area to continue onto Rd 73. After a mile there will be a fork - go left onto Rd 7315 towards the Suntop lookout. Continue up the forest road for 5 miles until the top, ignoring smaller spur roads. Find the Suntop trailhead (trail #1183) on the left just before the parking area. If you want to ride to the lookout it is another mile to the top (of even steeper climbing).
From the Suntop trailhead, the trail will start out with a very steep climb. As you crest the top there will be an awesome view of Mt Rainier. Stop and enjoy, because the view of Mt. Rainier is almost immediately hindered as you drop down the opposing side of the ridge. You can follow a small spur to the right for a better vantage point of Rainier before you drop down. The trail down is bit choppy, but is fairly wide, straight and fast. Some switchbacks will check your momentum as you dive back into the forest about halfway down.
A little over 2/3 into the ride you come out onto a forest road -- cross the road to continue the trail. The trail from this point forward has more turns and gets a bit more technical with some rocky terrain as well as a bit more exposure in some spots. A clearcut section provides a few tricky switchbacks and a rocky creek crossing with a sharp steep climb. The trail then ends with a fast steep section with a scattering of roots. Please be cautious with your speed as this is a very popular trail for hikers, and equestrians, as well as one the last trails open to dirt bikes. Ride safe and be courteous. Follow the trail down towards the river. You will end up near a campground and airstrip ("Ranger Creek State Airport"). Head north (downriver), and take a right on the forest road (#7160). After a short distance you will come upon the upper Skookum Flats parking area. You can pick up the the Skookum Flats trail here and continue it to the lower Skookum Flats parking area.
Local Points of Interest
There are limited bike parts/tools/etc at a shop on 410 just before leaving town. It's just down the street from the big Safeway in Enumclaw. The Naches Tavern in Greenwater has a selection of burgers, fried food and lotsa beer. The next food stop would be up in Crystal Mountain resort at the Snorting Elk.
- Suntop is FS trail #1183.
- Greentrails Map #238-Greenwater
This is for information about the trail's history with respect to mountain biking, the land owner, etc.