Hike description: This popular family hike is easily accessed from the Ipsut Creek Backcountry Camp. The November 2006 storms changed the Carbon River Road into trail. The 51/2-mile trail to Ipsut Creek is a combination of the old road and new trail designed to accommodate both hikers and mountain bikers. Is it worth the effort? Yes.
The trail from the campground to the glacier takes you through the forest, along the river, and then over a suspension bridge, to a view of the snout of the Carbon Glacier. You can eat your lunch as you listen to the thunk of rocks and debris falling off the glacier. Resist the temptation to hop down to get close to the glacier.
The hike to Ipsut Camp is through old-growth forest. Nurse logs nurturing new growth, trees and massive rock formations, carpets of moss and ferns, mushrooms, hollowed out tree bases that could be home to families of dwarves or tree nymphs are there for the looking.
The hike starts at the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. The first section of this trip will involve walking for a little less than 11/2 miles. The next section (about 11/2 miles) takes you through the area of the first major road washout. At 3 miles you will come to the trailhead and what’s left of the parking lot for Green Lake and Ranger Falls after the river raged through here. Another 0.7 miles will bring you to the Chenuis Falls trailhead, with just 1.8 miles left to Ipsut Camp.
Directions: Take Highway 410 to Buckley, then Highway 162 south to Wilkeson, then Highway 165 across the one-lane Fairfax bridge. When Highway 165 takes off uphill, to the right, toward Mowich Lake, stay low and to the left, driving along the Carbon River to the park entrance. Parking is at the entrance.
Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult) Miles round-trip: 6.5 Elevation: 900 feet Best time of year: June to October Map: Green Trails 269 – Mount Rainier West Pass: Mount Rainier or national park day or annual pass required Also: A backcountry permit is required for an overnight stay at Ipsut Camp. Contact the park before your trip to get a reservation. Restrooms and fee station at the park entrance. Road bikes are not recommended, and motorized vehicles are not permitted. Pets are not allowed on any trails in the park.
Info: For backcountry permits and current trail and road conditions: www.nps.gov/mora; “Day Hiking Mount Rainier,” Mountaineers Books.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.