Hike description: This is a great outing for families with small children. If you’re entertaining visiting guests who don’t have the time or inclination to get deeper into Mount Rainier National Park, this trail provides a great introduction to the wonder in our backyard.
The Rain Forest Loop Nature Trail is a half mile self-guided loop at the Carbon River entrance. The trail, part boardwalk, part forest trail, takes you through a marsh amongst old growth trees. Numbered stops provide information about our inland temperate rainforest. Bridges take you over small streams.
If the Rain Forest Loop Trail whets your appetite for more, hike down the old Carbon River Road into the forest primeval. The first 11/2 miles are on the old road. Just as you begin to wonder why the road is closed you will come to the first of the major washouts from the storms of November 2006. The water washed out the trail in several spots as the Carbon River and Ipsut Creek changed course. A combination of debris jams and silting pushed the water to find new routes. The road has been transformed by the park maintenance staff and an army of volunteers into a trail suitable for hikers and mountain bikers, all the way to Ipsut Camp.
Directions: To reach the Carbon River Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park , 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.
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Difficulty rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 0.5
Elevation: 80 feet
Best time of year: Year-round
Map: Green Trails 269 Mount Rainier West
Pass: Daily or annual Mount Rainier or national park pass
Also: Restrooms, picnic tables, trash receptacles and fee station at the Park entrance.
Information: For backcountry permits and current trail and road conditions: ww.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.