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Spray Park

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In many ways, you never recover from your first walk into Spray Park. The trail isn't difficult to follow. It's just difficult to forget. The 3.5-mile walk leads to seemingly endless open meadows of heather and alpine blossoms that tease the nose, ease the mind, and tickle the imagination. The place is a virtual lily factory. The so-called park itself--actually a vast corridor of open meadows interspersed among rocky moraines, lingering snow patches, whistling marmots, and sun-basking hikers--is a wonder to behold in the summer, truly qualifying as one of Rainier's most magnificent day-hike destinations.

Even though the Mowich entrance to Rainier is a lesser-used, backdoor way into the park, this trail also can be (understandably) quite crowded. But Spray Park is a broad enough area, rife with so many hidden pockets of meadow between rock formations, that it's still possible to grab some solitude among the blossoms.

From Mowich Lake, the trail drops quickly (less than 0.1 mile) to a junction with the Wonderland Trail and then climbs gradually for the next 1.7 miles through sun-filled forests. At this point, you'll find a broad side trail on the right leading a short 0.25 mile down to Spray Falls, a worthwhile side trip (seriously, do not skip this side trip).

After your 0.5-mile excursion to the falls, continue climbing as the trail turns steeply upward through a series of switchbacks. At about 2.5 miles from the trailhead, you'll climb out of the switchbacks and move across Grant Creek. The forest opens onto increasingly broad clearings and meadows, providing views of Hessong Rock (6385 feet) to the north and the hulk of Mount Rainier to the southeast.

The trail continues to climb, more gradually now, through broad fields of flowers. Stop anywhere along here--there are endless options for picnic spots with grand views. To find the best views, though, push on to the spine of the rocky ridge separating Spray Park from Seattle Park to the east. Here, at around 3.5 miles out, you'll find a cool rock garden at 6400 feet.
Driving Directions:

From Puyallup, drive 13 miles east on State Route 410 to Buckley. Turn right (south) onto SR 165 and proceed through Carbonado. Just beyond the Carbon River Gorge bridge, bear right onto Mowich Lake Road. Follow the road about 17 miles to its end; the trailhead is at the far end of the Mowich Lake Campground.

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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 184 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Spray Park — Sep 19, 2013 — Joe Hendricks
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage
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5 min video highlights: http://youtu.be/iS1SqocSdNg beautiful day on a beautiful trail. saw no on...
5 min video highlights: http://youtu.be/iS1SqocSdNg

beautiful day on a beautiful trail. saw no one on the way up, leaving at 7am, but quite a few when returning. be sure to take in the Eagle Lookout and Spray Falls!
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Spray Park — Sep 13, 2013 — defcon275
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Water on trail | Bugs
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Hike was amazing. I've done it 3 times in the past few years and this was the best. Flowers were b...
Hike was amazing. I've done it 3 times in the past few years and this was the best. Flowers were blooming, grass was green. This place gives you a big nature-high.

There were a few muddy parts of the trail you had to avoid, but hey...you're hiking, deal with it.

We hit the trail around 0830 and got to the far side of the park around 1100. Lunched it up there for an hour then turned around to make it back to the lake by 1330. We were being speedy, but if you have all day, TAKE ALL DAY. Explore the park and area beyond, it's beautiful!

Also..on our way back, we passed several people asking "how much farther?" or "is this the park?" when they had just walked accross the log bridge and weren't really in the park yet. Walk the extra 15 minutes to the actual park, it's worth every moment!
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Spray Park — Sep 08, 2013 — jammarie
Overnight
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
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Wonderful hike with vistas and cascades galore. Saw a huge brown bear at the main meadow. Huge. He/s...
Wonderful hike with vistas and cascades galore. Saw a huge brown bear at the main meadow. Huge. He/she was more interested in huckleberries than he was in the groups of people who were enjoying the sunshine and meadow views. I recommend you keep walking past the meadow for about another mile for better and better views. Lots of uphill towards end of hike, but nothing too terrible. Wish we would have known that there was a backpacking camp about 1.7mi into the hike. We instead stayed at the Mowich campground, which was fine, clean, and basic. No fires though :(
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Spray Park — Sep 08, 2013 — cindykru
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Water on trail | Bugs
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A great hike on a beautiful day. I'm happy to report that the gravel road into Mowich Lake is in go...
A great hike on a beautiful day. I'm happy to report that the gravel road into Mowich Lake is in good condition. The trail was a little wet due to last week's rain, and the flies and mosquitos were active, but manageable with bug spray. The gentian wild-flowers were beautiful, and at higher elevations the lupine and monkey flower were also present, along with some paint-brush. I've hiked this trail several times, and want to report that the Mountaineers actually report the elevation gain on this hike at 2600. I believe that is all the way to the saddle, but with ups and downs this hike is definitely more elevation the 1600 listed in the guidebooks. I suspect that 1600 feet of elevation gets you to the entrance of the park.
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Spray Park, Seattle Park, Carbon River, Ipsut Pass — Sep 02, 2013 — Pam and Paul Kaperick
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Mudholes | Water on trail | Snow on trail
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This is recommended in our Wonderland Trail book as a great two day option. We were feeling frisky a...
This is recommended in our Wonderland Trail book as a great two day option. We were feeling frisky and decided to do it in one day. We left from the Trailhead for Tolmie Lookout and headed to Spray Park. We did the view points along the way and made the pass above Spray Park in 2 1/2 hours. The descent was worse than expected requiring more time than we originally thought. We arrived where the Wonderland Trail used to cross the bridge and found that the trail was closed and we were diverted over the Suspension bridge to the work around to Ipsut Falls. There we replenished water and headed up the 3.5 miles to Ipsut Pass. After a long hike the climb out was a bear, but knowing there was an easy mile left after the pass made it bearable. All in all we ended up with a 17 mile hike with over 6000 feet of elevation gain.

More pictures and the whole story here. http://dog-walks-man.blogsp[…]rk-seattle-park-carbon.html
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1106-0.jpg
Entrance to Spray Park with Mount Rainier views. Photo by Thomas Sunderland.
WTA worked here!
2011, 2012
Location
Mt. Rainier -- NW - Carbon River / Mowich
Mount Rainier National Park, Carbon River Ranger Station
Statistics
Roundtrip 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain 1600 ft
Highest Point 6400 ft
Features
Waterfalls
Old growth
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Wildlife
User info
Dogs not allowed
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Mount Rainier Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Mount Rainier West
No. 269

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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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Red MarkerSpray Park
46.9327 -121.863616667
  • Youth Vacations 2012
  • Volunteer Vacations 2011
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