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Camp Muir Snowshoe

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Camp Muir, named for the legendary naturalist John Muir, is the gate to the summit of Mount Rainier. Virtually every climbing party that heads up from Paradise passes through Camp Muir. But you don't have to be summit bound to enjoy a trip to the camp. And you don't have to camp to visit the camp. The route to Camp Muir is long, strenuous, and very susceptible to poor weather. But it can also be incredibly beautiful, with views that can't be found anywhere else. When the skies are clear and the snow is firm, snowshoers can slog up the long, steep slopes, pausing whenever they need a breather and enjoy endless views south. Mount Adams can be seen beyond the Goat Rocks peaks. Mount St. Helens can be seen on the far side of the Tatoosh Range. Far to the south, Mount Hood stands, and beyond it, far down in central Oregon, Mount Jefferson can sometimes be seen on the hazy horizon.

This long climb is best done late in the winter or better yet, in the spring, when the days are longer so you'll have extra daylight hours to make the long plodding climb. The route should also be reserved for days when the weather forecast calls for clear, stable weather. The long, barren slopes all clad in white can be extremely confusing and dangerous when the clouds blow in. The trek here should be considered an alpine mountaineering experience rather than just a stroll in the snow.

From the western side of the parking area, start up through the meadows, following the route to Panorama Point (Route 87). Snowshoe up past the groomed sliding areas populated by families with inner tubes, and continue around the west side of Alta Vista, plodding up the long slope to Panorama Point. Here, you're nearly half way to the camp. Before heading onward and upward, stop and enjoy the views--look south to The Castle, Pinnacle Peak, and Denman Peak in the heart of the Tatoosh Range. You can also see the long, craggy line of the Goat Rocks peaks leading south to Mount Adams. To the southeast, look for the abbreviated top of Mount St. Helens.

From Panorama Point, your route continues north, climbing through the Pebble Creek valley (7200 feet) a bit more than 1 mile from the point. In the valley, you'll find some big drifts that need to be crossed. Be careful with these drifts--some can be 20 or more feet tall and corniced at the top.

Beyond Pebble Creek, you enter the Muir Snowfield and the long, straight shot over the final miles and the last 2800 feet of elevation. You'll see the knob of McClure Rock on your right just after crossing Pebble Creek, and as you approach 9000 feet, you'll see the iron-hard frame of Anvil Rock. The last 0.5 mile, covering nearly 900 feet of elevation, makes you work for that final goal of reaching Camp Muir.

At the camp, though, you can rest and relax. If you're staying, you can relax for as long as you like. (Check with the ranger before heading up the mountain if you want to stay at Camp Muir. You'll need an overnight permit.) If you're day tripping, don't relax too long--you have a long slog back down the slope before nightfall.

Author’s Rating: Most Difficult
Hikers should have good experience and familiarity with snowshoes. This route features sections that will need to be evaluated for avalanche safety every time. Trails climb considerably and may include climbing to ridge tops. Traverses across forested or open slopes may be required. An ability to self-arrest with an ice axe or trekking pole recommended.
Driving Directions:

To get there, drive east from Tacoma on State Route 7 and bear left onto SR 706 at the town of Elbe. Continue east through the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, and
proceed up the plowed road to the Paradise Lodge parking area.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 37 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Camp Muir Snowshoe — Apr 12, 2014 — mosyrosie
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Snowshoed up to Moon Rocks 9,040 feet. Had intended to go up to Camp Muir but decided Moon Rocks w...
Snowshoed up to Moon Rocks 9,040 feet. Had intended to go up to Camp Muir but decided Moon Rocks was good enough. We started about 8:15 a.m. The snow was compact and going up the hill to Panorama Point was good also, not icy. The trail is good. There were many skiers, so the snow must be really good for that right now. Also, heard climbers had summited. The weather is great right now. When we got up to Moon Rocks it was very windy, but eventually calmed down. When we started down, the snow became very mushy. We were glad we brought our snowshoes as there were some deep postholes. We had a few really good glissades down, especially the steep hill going down from Panorama Point. Great views and a great day!
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Camp Muir Snowshoe, Pebble Creek Snowshoe Hike — Apr 10, 2014 — mosyrosie
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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On Thursday, April 10, we snowshoed to Pebble Creek. It was an amazingly sunny day. We did not ge...
On Thursday, April 10, we snowshoed to Pebble Creek. It was an amazingly sunny day. We did not get to Paradise until 9:45 a.m. as the gate in Longmire was closed. If you go during the week, expect long delays to Longmire. We did not start our snowshoe hike until after 10:00 a.m. I was surprised that the snow was pretty compact. When we came to the hill heading up to Panorama Point, it was steep and we pretty much went straight up. It was not bad. When we got to Panorama Point, the views were great. It was a clear day. The trail going up to Pebble Creek was good and compact also. I like to take and place wands so I can come back the way I started the snowshoe hike because there are so many snowshoe and ski trails. We had a nice lunch at Pebble Creek. After lunch we continued up to 7,600 feet and decided to go back. We were able to glissade down a couple of steep hills and especially the big hill. It was great! The snow was pretty mushy when we came down the hill and started back on the trail. The sun was extremely bright, so put on lots of sunscreen. It was a great day.
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Camp Muir Snowshoe — Apr 07, 2014 — Simone
Snowshoe/XC Ski
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We had a spectacular snowshoeing trip on this perfectly clear, sunny Monday. We'd originally set out...
We had a spectacular snowshoeing trip on this perfectly clear, sunny Monday. We'd originally set out to do a shorter trip than the trek to Camp Muir but seized the weather conditions and pushed through all the way. The path was packed down and well-traversed from plenty of snowshoes and backcountry skis, so route-finding was not a concern. Moving at a comfortable pace with plenty of breathers, it took us about 5 hours to reach Camp Muir. By the time we returned, the snow had softened considerably in the sun, and our snowshoes were sinking in about 6-8" with each step. Traveling down, with mountains and mountains before us, sharply visible in the clear air, all the effort to reach Camp Muir was worth it. If anyone does this trip in conditions similar to ours, be prepared to sweat in the powerful sun at the beginning of the trip (SPF 50 sport sunscreen) and to freeze in the icy mountain winds at Camp Muir (mid-layer + hardshell + serious hat and gloves).
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Camp Muir, Camp Muir Snowshoe — Jun 15, 2013 — D
Day hike
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We started about 11:15am and reached Camp Muir at 2:13pm. Along the route, we stopped two times in t...
We started about 11:15am and reached Camp Muir at 2:13pm. Along the route, we stopped two times in total of ~30mins.

Walking on this trail/snow path for most (90%+) part felt like climbing stairs. The last half mile or so, I felt light headed so we slow down a bit. On the way up we were going around people. It was ok to do that as the snow around the most prominent path was easily walkable.

On the way back, my partner slid on an air tube, and I ran. The snow was soft, so running down the mountain was lots of fun, and easy. He had fun sliding on the air tube. People that attempted sliding on trash bags didn't get far. The snow was too soft for that.

To consider:
There were couple of steep sections towards beginning (steep stairs). On the way back they looked like pretty steep snowy downhills. Nobody there had problems with those. I noticed them. :) The snow was perfect for sliding down on heels, and I made it, too.

Musts: Lots of water, sun glasses, and sun screen.
Almost a must: Waterproof shoes, high gaiters, a hat, extra pair of socks to change at the Camp if your feet are wet and cold, windbreaker in case it is windy at the camp.

What would I differently: Took Salomon waterproof running shoes with yaktrax, and gaiters (and maybe hiking poles - this would depend on time of the day/amount of hard snow on the trail, and whether I would run down or walk). Also, I would started the hike a bit earlier.

To disclose: we made it up in 2:30h travel time. We are fit hikers and endurance runners. For example, it takes us about 1:15-1:20h to hike up Mt Si, and this hike felt easier than that. For us hiking to Camp Muir felt like going up Mt. Granite by hardness.




 
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Camp Muir Snowshoe — Apr 03, 2013 — firebeard
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Drove up to Paradise and had a beautiful clear skies snowshoe up to camp muir. The snow was quite h...
Drove up to Paradise and had a beautiful clear skies snowshoe up to camp muir. The snow was quite hard most the way up that day and we only saw a handful of snowshoers/skiers. Great views and nice hike. Road was bare and dry all the way to paradise and there is evidence of snow melting fast. On the way down the snow softened up quite a bit and by panorama point we were post holing pretty bad so the snowshoes went back on. We could hear ice cracking pretty loudly and there were some obvious crevices on the mountain well away from the trail. Not much else to say on this report.
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camp muir.JPG
Photo by Eric Jain.
Location
Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
Mount Rainier National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 10.0 miles
Elevation Gain 4400 ft
Highest Point 10000 ft
Features
Mountain views
User info
Dogs not allowed
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails: Mount Rainier East No. 270, Paradise No. 270S

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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