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Crystal Lakes

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.4 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Follow Crystal Lakes Trail as it ascends from forest to alpine meadows en route to beautiful lakes.


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Map Key

6.0

Miles

9.7

KM

Out and Back

5,831' 1,777 m

High

3,543' 1,080 m

Low

2,287' 697 m

Up

2,287' 697 m

Down

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

42%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

Overview

This is a great way to experience some of the plentiful beauty on offer at Mount Rainier National Park. A lush, forested setting gives way to a subalpine meadow and lake over the course of this hike.

Need to Know

The trailhead is located on SR 410 approximately 4 miles north of Cayuse Pass toward the park's northern boundary. It's on the eastern side of the road near Crystal Creek.

Description

The first 1.5 miles of trail climbs through dense forest on a series of switchbacks. Along this portion of the hike, you'll have the opportunity for good views of Mount Rainier until it's eclipsed by Crystal Peak. The next mile of trail leads to the forested Lower Crystal Lake, the smaller of the two lakes. This is a serene setting for a break before continuing to Upper Crystal Lake.

The lovely open basin containing Upper Crystal Lake lies just 0.5 mile beyond the lower lake. During the summer, wildflowers abound in the meadows around the lake. From this point, Crystal Peak and its craggy ridges dominate the skyline around the lake.

A side trip to Crystal Peak (five miles round-trip) is well worth the effort. On a clear day five volcanoes can be seen from this 6615' former fire lookout site. Start early in the day if you plan on venturing to the peak as the trail traverses a shadeless south-facing slope which can be very hot and dry during summer.

There are wilderness camps both at Lower and Upper Crystal Lakes. Be sure to camp in designated sites only. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from Wilderness Information Centers, Ranger Stations, Visitor Centers and on our web site.

Flora & Fauna

By late July and early August the meadows explode with a wide variety of colorful subalpine wildflowers. Watch for elk and mountain goats grazing on the surrounding slopes and ridges anytime throughout the summer and early fall.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes

#7

in Sunrise

#2713

Overall
  4.4 from 5 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#7

in Sunrise

#150

in Washington

#2,713

Overall
4 Views Last Month
1,868 Since Feb 26, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Lower Crystal Lake
Mar 4, 2015 near Eatonville, WA
Mt. Rainier hike Crystal Lake
Mar 4, 2015 near Eatonville, WA

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 92 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 21, 2021
Joe Smith
started 11:10am. got to upper crystal lake 12:30pm. no fish biting. left lake 2:40pm, got to car at 4:30pm. absolutely beautiful hike, not hard at… 8mi — 3h 20m
Jun 25, 2021
Jacob Hill
Really tough going on the way up, but lower and upper lake were both thoroughly stunning. An excellent first big hike!
Aug 14, 2020
Allison Tillotson
7mi
Jun 23, 2020
Adamson Bryant
with Clare, Tom, Milo, and Brie 6.4mi
Oct 12, 2019
Nichole Snorteland
We took our time taking lots of photos and enjoying some snowball fights. Trail was in good condition, light snow. Went to the upper and lower lake.
May 29, 2019
David Daigneault
We were unable to reach the peek due to snowpack but we were able to reach the lower lakes and view the campsites. 5.4mi — 4h 00m
Sep 3, 2018
Sophia Riffkin
6mi
Aug 20, 2017
Jake Riley
Steep hike! Well worth the view and the time by the serene lakes 6mi