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Emmons Glacier View

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The rewards are grand views, wonderful lessons in geology, and easy hiking. The only drawback of the route is the potential for crowds--the hiking is relatively easy, leading out of a popular car campground, so the masses flock to this scenic trail. Fortunately, the broad trail can handle the pressure. In fact, it once handled hordes of tourists in Model Ts and Park Service buses, so a bit of foot traffic won't be a problem. The road-turned-trail offers easy walking for the most part, close to the river. Look up at the hulk of Rainier looming to the southwest as you hike, and you can enjoy the towering wall of Goat Island Mountain to the south.

Start on the broad trail as it leaves the upper loop of the campground, following the White River upstream for 1 mile. The route stays away from the river most of the way but dips in close to the water frequently enough to bring you a refreshingly cool breeze off the ice-melt water.

At 1 mile, the trail splits. To the right is the Glacier Basin Trail. Turn left, crossing the Inter Fork of the White River on a broad footlog (or, depending on the river course, multiple footlogs across the braided river). Once over the river, you follow the rough trail as it weaves through the long spines of rocky moraine--rubble left behind by the retreating glacier.

At 1.5 miles, the trail officially ends at a viewpoint offering panoramic views up the face of Emmons Glacier. Look up the length of the long finger of ice to the summit of mighty Mount Rainier. As tempting as it may be, avoid the urge to scramble around the moraine at trail's end--the braided headwaters of the White River are unpredictable, the footing in the area is marginal, and the waters of the river are deathly cold. Stay on the trail, and return as you came. Note: This trail was severely damaged in the November 2006 floods. As this book went to press, this trail was relocated through rough terrain. Check with the park for the current status of this trail.
Driving Directions:

From Enumclaw, drive east 43 miles on State Route 410 to the Mount Rainier National Park White River Entrance. Veer right onto the Sunrise Road and follow it 5 miles, cross the White River, and turn left onto the White River Road. Follow this road to its end at the White River Campground. Park in the hikers lot and find the trailhead at the upper end of the campground loop.

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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 7 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Emmons Glacier View — Aug 20, 2013 — GingerB85
Day hike
Issues: Mud/Rockslide
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We did this trail on the way out after completing the Glacier Basin trail. After crossing the river...
We did this trail on the way out after completing the Glacier Basin trail. After crossing the river on the foot log, there was a sign warning of rockfall. There appeared to have been a recent rockslide. The initial part of the trail hugged the side of the hill and was exceptionally narrow, definitely no room for passing. The footing was very loose and we moved carefully, using our trekking poles. Once we rounded the bend to the right, the footing was surer and the path wide. The views from this short hike were amazing and we were very glad we added it to our day. No bugs on this side of the river, as we had been fighting bugs on the Glacier Basin leg.
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Emmons Glacier View, Glacier Basin — Sep 09, 2012 — Meredith
Day hike
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We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Sunday and did this hike before opening a bottle of c...
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Sunday and did this hike before opening a bottle of champagne back at our campsite near the trail head. We didn't go all the way to the camp. I'll confess that I got a little spooked by all the talk of the bear that frequents this trail. All reports indicate that he's friendly, but because daylight was dwindling and we were probably the only people left on the trail, I thought it best to turn back. The Emmons Glacier View trail is narrow and rapidly deteriorating in one spot. We had no trouble passing, but an older couple behind us chose not to attempt it. The mountain wasn't very visible, anyway. We got a good, but brief, view of the glacier before the clouds moved back in.
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Emmons Glacier View, Glacier Basin — Aug 24, 2011 — blue eyes
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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Mr. Bear “on the trail” was the highlight of the day and certainly ranks as one of my most memor...
Mr. Bear “on the trail” was the highlight of the day and certainly ranks as one of my most memorable hikes. There has been plenty of discussion regarding bears on this trail but little did I think I would be greeted by Mr. Bear casually walking towards me on a slight curve in the trail as I was descending down the trail. As we both met eye-to-eye he leisurely veered off the path into the brush and trees to make a half circle past me and then join the trail again. He gave a quick look towards me as he stepped back onto the trail and continued on his way as if he did not have a care in the world. It was quite amazing and a relief that he decided to circumvent me while I was standing on the trail. Today it seemed life was good for Mr. Bear in his unhurried, easy-going way.

Now for more trail report details - the trailhead starts in the White River Campground on the west side of Loop D. Parking for hikers and climbers is in the middle of the campground area. Once parked, walk west and pass one of the restored cabins used in this area years ago. A trail sign marks the start of the trail.

The Emmons Glacier is the largest glacier on Mt. Rainier and in the contiguous US. This was the enticement to check out the Emmons Moraine and Glacier Basin trails. Within a mile on the trail, a sign marks the Emmons Moraine trail to the left which descends down to the rushing waters on the Inter Fork – a nice log bridge is in place to provide the crossing. This short half mile, one way jaunt to the view of the Emmons Moraine which includes views of Mt. Rainier is well worth the side trip.

Ready to move on, return the same way back to the Glacier Basin trail. The trail is a nice, wide trail that moves in and out of the forest with many wildflowers in the meadows and at many of the creeks/small waterfall crossings. There is no snow on the trail. Animals seen on the trail besides Mr. Bear was a frog at one of the water crossings, a speedy little vole (I think), and a chipmunk.

Some mining equipment is along the trail as explained on the interpretive sign located at the beginning of the trail. At 2.5 miles, there is the option to take the Burroughs Mountain trail. Otherwise, continue to Glacier Basin as the trail begins to climb more steadily for less than ¾ of a mile. There were many wildflowers and the meadows very green. The trail peaks at around 5,900 ft and then passes through Glacier Basin Camp. A ranger was setting up for the night and advised that bears had been frequenting the area. Signs were posted. Hike past the camp to enjoy the expansive views of Mt. Rainier, whose top was now somewhat covered, Mt. Ruth, The Wedge and the meadows. A sign is posted at this point advising the trail is no longer maintained. Those wishing to climb Mt. Rainier continue on to Camp Schurman. Don’t be surprised to meet climbers intent on climbing Mt. Rainier; today I met three guys returning from the mountain.

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Emmons Glacier View, Glacier Basin — Jul 02, 2011 — gsbarnes
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Snow on trail
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Hiked from the White River campground up the Emmons Moraine Trail. There was a bit of snow, but it ...
Hiked from the White River campground up the Emmons Moraine Trail. There was a bit of snow, but it was easy to walk around/over.

On the drive up the White River road, there was a small black bear along the road (only one, but it looked young enough that it might have just recently left its mother). Just after we crossed the bridge over the Inter Fork, two of our party spotted a similar sized bear disappearing into the brush on the north side of the river (just below the main Glacier Basin trail before the Emmons Moraine Trail forks off).

When we returned to the junction with the Glacier Basin Trail, we decided to hike up that trail for a bit. Reports were that there was plenty of snow on this trail, so we weren't planning on going far. After about 50 yards, we came across a group of hikers who said they came across a bear right on the trail, and had retreated a few minutes ago. As we were debating when/whether to go on, another group of hikers came down the trail in the opposite direction and said they hadn't seen a bear, so we continued on.

Fresh bear scat was visible soon after, and at the first switchback, we all stopped as the bear was on side of the hill just above. Again, a small bear, on its own, just digging around in the dirt. We were downwind of it, so it didn't notice us, but soon enough another group of hikers came by upwind of it, and the bear noticed them. It looked like it just wanted to be left alone, and we decided we were unlikely to see anything more interesting if we went on, so we turned around and walked back to the campground.

On the way back down, we heard reports of another bear about '20 minutes' downtrail (toward the trailhead), so there were probably 2 black bears in the area. Possibly siblings that had just been let go by their mother, but that's just a guess. We reported our three sightings at the ranger station, where they said they'd had numerous reports of bears on the road, but apparently this was the first day they had reports of a bear near the trail.
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Glacier Basin, Emmons Glacier View — Sep 21, 2010 — Hikingqueen
Overnight
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So one of my goals this year was to complete 10 backpack trips, this was #10 and I was stoked! Her...
So one of my goals this year was to complete 10 backpack trips, this was #10 and I was stoked!
Here's my list: Ipsut, Ancient Lakes, Graves Creek to Oneil, Carbon Glacier, Crystal Lakes, Shriner Peak, Upper Palisades Lake, Berkeley Park, Summerland, & Glacier Basin. I pretty much completed the Sunrise circuit, at least the ones I really wanted to do, next year I will hit the Paradise side.
I got my permit and headed up the trail the ranger told me to check out the Emmon Moraine trail on the way, I did and it was SO worth the little side trip. Trail is rough in one spot seems to have some slide issues already or maybe it's just not completed. One of my favorite things was the green tarn that I got super close to, I always see this from Shadow Lake area and want to get closer, this is how. I was so excited I dropped my fricking camera taking it out of the case, I hope it lasts me another year.
Back to Glacier Basin trail it was well done and everyone on this project needs a huge thanks! I actually saw a small crew and thanked them for their hard work. They would be the only 3 people I would see all day and night.
I arrived at camp and had my choice of all the spots, after much deliberation I choose spot #1. I explored up the wedge I think that's what it's called, saw 1 solo marmot a few frogs around the pond that's about it for wildlife, I was bummed no bears for me this year, up close anyway.
Today wasn't spectacular sunrise by any means but what I did get was some great reflection shots in the pond. I'm on hike 80 I believe, if my counts are accurate and 10 overnights completed September isn't over yet.
 
P.S. The mice are still in the area, they didn't get a meal from me this time but did leave some poo in my car again, but no comfy fleece for them to curl up in or any food, so it was a very small mess this time. I also talked to a guy that slept in his car and said he heard them all night. White River area is infected be aware.

Lots of pics on flickr http://www.flickr.com/[…]/
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bridge_view-3898.jpg
Foot bridge crossing the Inter Fork of White River on Emmons Glacier Trail
Location
Mt. Rainier -- NE - Sunrise / White River
Mount Rainier National Park
Statistics
Roundtrip 3.0 miles
Elevation Gain 900 ft
Highest Point 5200 ft
Features
Lakes
Mountain views
User info
Dogs not allowed
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Hiking Guide to Washington Geology (Carson / Babcock - Keokee) p. 144-148
Green Trails Mount Rainier East
No. 270; Contact: Sunrise Ranger Station
(360) 663-2425;

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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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