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The start of the 5 ½-mile Skyline Trail sits near the entrance to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise and is marked by stone steps inscribed with a quote by John Muir that reads: "… the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings." If you head clockwise, the trail climbs 2 miles to Panorama Point, which rewards hikers with breathtaking views.
After this stop, the park service advises hikers use the High Skyline Trail to avoid a dangerous icy slope that never melts, which connects back to the Skyline above the junction with Golden Gate trail (an alternative for a shorter hike). Views along the way include displays of subalpine wildflowers, Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier, and, on a clear day, peaks as far south as Oregon's Mount Hood.
According to visitors, the hike is well worth the three to five hours it takes to make the round-trip journey, calling the views "spectacular." Reviewers do warn the trail can get crowded at times with other hikers and it is not for those who aren't in good health. Many hikers advise getting an early start to avoid crowds.
Access to the Skyline Trail is included in your park admission. Of note, hikers will find a convenient toilet located at Panorama Point. For more information, including current trail conditions visit the NPS website.