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Glacier Basin

Intermediate
 4.6 (8) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Follow this retrofitted mining road as it ascends high into the White River Valley.


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Map Key

6.2

Miles

10.0

KM

Out and Back

5,954' 1,815 m

High

4,343' 1,324 m

Low

1,611' 491 m

Up

1,610' 491 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Watch for mountain goats on the surrounding slopes. After the first mile, a ½ mile spur trail leads to a view of the Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the lower 48 states.

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

Overview

This out and back will guide you through the splendid White River Valley to near the base of one of the few remaining glaciers in the Lower 48. This route was once an old mining road which was rehabilitated for trail use. It follows the White River for about three miles.

Need to Know

Drive through the White River Entrance Station and continue five miles to the White River Campground. Be sure to park in the hiker/climber parking area and not in a campsite. The trail begins at the upper end of the campground.

Description

From the campground, start up the trail as it parallels the cold, glacially fed waters of the White River. At first, the ascent is gradual, but becomes steeper on the final section before entering Glacier Basin. One mile beyond the trailhead is a junction with the Emmons Moraine Trail. This one-mile round-trip spur trail leads to a viewpoint which overlooks the Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the 48 contiguous United States.

For this hike, keep right at the fork with the Emmons Moraine Trail to stay on the Glacier Basin Trail. Continue your ascent along the White River and take in the splendid views along the way. Some sections of the trail are more rugged than others due to the history of flooding in this valley.

At mile 2.5, you'll encounter the Burroughs Mountain Trail which branches off to the right and ascends steeply to the top of the valley's northern ridge. Continue for another half mile past this junction to Glacier Basin, the official end of this trail. From Glacier Basin, look for mountain goats on the surrounding slopes and climbers ascending the Inter Glacier to Steamboat Prow.

A climber's track continues past Glacier Basin camp, passing through an area of fragile wetland plants to the base of the Inter Glacier. If you choose to continue on this track, please stay on the trail to protect the vegetation.

Campsites at Glacier Basin are popular with climbers who are beginning their ascent of Mount Rainier. The sites are located in the trees as one approaches the open meadows of the basin. 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

Dense riparian forest transitions into open subalpine meadows along this route. Wildflowers abound in late spring and summer.

Keep an eye out for mountain goats in Glacier Basin. In contrast to their shaggy all-white coats, Mountain Goats have black lips, eyes, noses, and hooves. A dense warm undercoat allows them to live comfortably at high elevations even during winter. Their hooves have a hard outer ring with a spongy center that helps them "stick" to rocks. Mountain goats are nimble climbers, easily traversing steep rock slopes and cliffs. Both males and females have slim black horns. In males, the horns thicken and curl backwards as the goat ages. Mountain goats will range between subalpine and alpine regions in the park. They eat mosses, lichens, shrubs, some grasses and other vegetation.

History & Background

Although an effort was made to mine copper ore in this area in the late 1800s, nothing of commercial value was ever extracted and mining efforts were eventually suspended.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 8 votes

#4

in Sunrise

#1710

Overall
  4.6 from 8 votes
5 Star
63%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Sunrise

#104

in Washington

#1,710

Overall
11 Views Last Month
2,588 Since Feb 26, 2015
Intermediate

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88%
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13%
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Photos

Glacier Basin, Mount Rainier
Mar 5, 2015 near Eatonville, WA
Mt Rainier from the second Burrough.
Oct 27, 2018 near Greenwater, WA
East side of Mount Rainier NP, heading up to Mount Ruth between Emmons Glacier and Camp Sherman.
Mar 13, 2016 near Eatonville, WA
One of the many cascading creeks that flow by (under) the trail.
Sep 5, 2016 near Eatonville, WA
The trail cuts through the Glacier Basin campsites (primitive but nice). Many are fully shaded and look well draining.
Sep 5, 2016 near Eatonville, WA
One of the many footbridges on the Glacier Basin Trail.
Sep 5, 2016 near Eatonville, WA

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Check-Ins

Aug 13, 2020
Allison Tillotson
6.2mi
Aug 6, 2020
Chad DuBois
Jul 4, 2020
Bethany V
Oct 11, 2019
Dan Hanus
last hike off sunrise area of rainier of 2019...
Jul 17, 2019
Trent Smith
Jul 5, 2019
Cathy M.
Lots of flowers. Trail snow-covered in Basin. Hiked in running shoes to where climb teams roped-up. Also side trail. 10.7mi — 5h 33m
Jul 1, 2019
Nathan Mueller
take the side trail out to the moraine and go up the snow as far as you can for the full experience 10.1mi — 5h 13m
Jun 25, 2019
Brian Hegge