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Glacier Basin

Mount Rainier Area > NE - Sunrise/White River
46.9021, -121.6437 Map & Directions
Length
6.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
1600 feet
Highest Point
5900 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate/Hard
A little hiker on the trail through the meadow at the Glacier Basin campground with Mt Rainier in the background. Photo by mbravenboer. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Wildlife
  • Established campsites
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Good for kids
  • Lakes
  • Rivers

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

Floods in 2006 severely damaged the Glacier Basin trail, but after four years of work, WTA completed a new trail in Glacier Basin at Mount Rainier National Park in the summer of 2011. Since then, hikers of all stripes have had the pleasure of enjoying a brand-new route to one of the mountain's most iconic glaciers on an easy-to-hike trail. Continue reading

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Hiking Glacier Basin

Floods in 2006 severely damaged the Glacier Basin trail, but after four years of work, WTA completed a new trail in Glacier Basin at Mount Rainier National Park in the summer of 2011. Since then, hikers of all stripes have had the pleasure of enjoying a brand-new route to one of the mountain's most iconic glaciers on an easy-to-hike trail.

Originally a mining road along the Inter Fork of the White River, the route was converted into a trail when the area became a national park. Visitors ranged from climbers accessing the popular Emmons Glacier, to families strolling out of White River campground. Located in close proximity to the dynamic, glacier-fed White River, the original trail was frequently damaged by the river's shifting course. After the floods in 2006, the park elected to build a new trail that was no longer subject to the floods.

Thanks to a Herculean effort by WTA volunteers and Mount Rainier National Park (after all, 6,500 feet of trail isn't the easiest task to complete) the 3.25-mile hike up the Inter Fork of the White River is now a breeze. Along the way, you'll pass a half mile side trail heading up Emmons Moraine. This one is worth a detour, as it offers incredible views of Emmons Glacier, the largest sheet of ice on Rainier, and a milky blue-green glacial lake below.

Another mile up, pass the junction with the Burroughs Mountain Trail and continue into the Glacier Basin wilderness camp in a forested glen, where six campsites are available, including a group site.

Just beyond the camp, Glacier Basin opens up in all its glory, with wide meadows, a large shimmering tarn, and views up The Mountain of The Wedge and Mount Ruth. You'll also see a well-worn climber's trail continuing up to Camps Curtis and Schurman.

WTA Pro Tip: Make this a loop trip! Note that this route is quite a bit longer -- clocking in at 11.5 miles and 3100 feet of elevation gain. On the way, you'll summit 7,400 foot Burroughs Mountain, descend to Frozen Lake, then head southeast on the Wonderland Trail through Sunrise Camp and Shadow Lake, then back down to where you started at White River Campground.

WTA worked here in 2018, 2016, 2015, 2011 and 2010!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Glacier Basin

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.9021, -121.6437 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Enumclaw, head east on Highway 410 for 43 miles to the White River entrance to the park. Turn right onto Sunrise Road and follow it for five miles, then cross the White River and turn left onto the White River Road. Follow the road to its end at the White River Campground. The trailhead is at the upper end of the loop in the campground.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area > NE - Sunrise/White River

Mount Rainier National Park

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades

Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Mount Rainier East No. 270

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Glacier Basin

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