Hike description: This trail leads from the White River Campground to the Glacier Basin backcountry camp (permit required), along the second most popular route to Mount Rainier's peak. The bottom portion of the trail, for the most part, is wide in tribute to its origins as a mining road.
Very soon, however, this civilized path virtually disappears at the edge of the White River where the historic 2006 floods wiped out the next mile of trail. Recently, however, while a replacement trail is being built higher on the ridge, the rangers have been maintaining a rustic track through the dry portion of the riverbed. Vigilant hikers should be able to follow this track around the river rock and over the jackstraw timber. The replacement trail is due for completion at the end of the 2010 season.
Continuing on the main trail, which at this point is back to resembling the old mining road, hikers will soon pass the junction (on the right) for the Burroughs Mountain Trail. Pay attention as you hike along the trail and you will spot bits and pieces of machinery left from the old mining operation. In another half mile or so is the Glacier Basin campground, the end of the maintained trail and home to a family (or two) of marmots and the occasional passing black bear. As you enjoy lunch and a well-deserved nap, take out your map to identify The Mountain (easy), Mount Ruth and The Wedge, rising above the meadow.
More adventurous hikers may want to continue upward toward the Inter Glacier on the unmaintained climber’s track. Do not attempt glacier travel unless you are properly trained and equipped. Be careful on this track as some segments of the path traverse steep inclines and are very narrow. In wet weather, the soil on this route is very slippery.
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Directions: Take state Route 410 through Enumclaw and Greenwater to the White River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Drive 5 miles from the entrance to the White River Campground. Turn left into the campground and park in the day use parking on the left. Follow the signs through the camp sites or walk the road to the trailhead signed for Glacier Basin.
Difficulty rating: 3 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 9
Elevation: 1,704 feet
Best time of year: July to October
Map: Green Trails 270 – Mount Rainier East
Pass: Mount Rainier or National Park week or annual pass
Also: Restrooms and potable water are located at the park entrance and at the White River Campground. Bug spray is recommended. This trail is hot in the summer. If you don’t want to carry all the water you will need, check on availability of water and bring a purifier or purification tablets. Carry the 10 Essentials on all wilderness travel, along with a bag to pack out your own trash (including fruit peals and cores and TP) as well as any stray bits of litter you find along the way.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma and Olympia Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.