I hesitate to tell this story, because I don't want you to think I'm bragging. Except I am bragging, a little. But you need to know that I know this wasn't totally wise and I wouldn't recommend it as a general rule and it wasn't entirely intentional. Because when this idea was proposed, somehow I heard "3.5 miles" and "500 feet elevation change" and thought "3 miles" and "50 feet elevation change". I combined that with the other things I heard ("easy", "popular", "spectacular views of Mt. Ranier") and envisioned a comfortable stroll on mostly level ground, a picnic half way through at the beautiful lake, and a generally leisurely pace completely compatible with a bunch of small children, a 5-week-old infant, and my 5-week-post-partum body.
It became clear fairly quickly, even before I was pushing Mr. P and my nephew to keep moving past the beautiful lake picnic spot in order to avoid being completely attacked by the swarm of mosquitoes that surrounded us every time we paused, that the Nachez Peak Loop trail is a bit more of an adventure than that. Especially if the snow's just melted and the first hatch of mosquitoes has just appeared and you didn't think to bring bug spray because you've hardly seen a mosquito in a year.
Lucky for us (luck so extreme, I'd be tempted to believe it was divinely bestowed), the kids all kept going, with hardly a complaint, for more than two miles (and the 500 foot climb) without a stop, even though they wanted food and wanted to jump in the lake (pretty sure that "lake" was a glorified puddle and the source of most of the swarming mosquitoes), until we got to the windier side of the mountain and could bear to sit for a bit, although we were still fending off mosquitoes every time the breeze died down for a few seconds.
Also lucky, I didn't trip while carrying the baby, nor do I seem to have sprained my pelvis, nor did MarMar sprain her ankle (she has a propensity for such things), nor did we lose a child off the steep edge of a trail. And the baby slept pretty much the whole way.
It was a gorgeous hike, that was true. And we all felt really accomplished at the end of it. I did enjoy the high five I got from another mom when she found out the baby was only 5 weeks old, but I also felt squirmy about it because going on this hike this soon is something I would definitely scold you for considering, so I really shouldn't have been doing it myself. Even if I do feel pretty proud of my adventurousness. But, like I said, don't do it!