Seattle Times writer Walker Orenstein just posted an article on how Washington’s minimal snow season means an early hiking season for some. According to Orenstein, the national parks and other hiking areas in the state are receiving more traffic due to the record-low snow. The article offers some great suggestions for those seeking snow-less hikes in the state, including in the Columbia River Gorge area, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie NF, and Okanogan-Wenatchee NF. While I prefer hiking without a lot of snow, sometimes a lot of snowpack makes for an exciting hike. I recommend a trip up to Paradise in Rainier National Park for some easy snow hiking: the road to Paradise above Longmire just opened a few days ago. I was up at Paradise a few months ago and hiked up to Panorama Point. At the time, I didn’t need snowshoes because the snow was packed so well. If you go on a nice weekend day, expect some crowds at Paradise. Crowds and all, though, it’s amazing to hike up this close to Rainier on a clear day and see this magnificent and massive mountain up close and personal.