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Bumping Lake

Mount Rainier Area > Chinook Pass - Hwy 410
46.8570, -121.3199 Map & Directions
9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
300 feet
Highest Point
3,700 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Wildlife
  • Established campsites
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Old growth
  • Lakes
  • Fall foliage

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass

A gentle hike through stands of mature larches and other conifers along the shores of Bumping Lake. The trail is also a good alternate route to Swamp Lake Trail #970 or to Pacific Crest Trail #2000 when a ford of the Bumping River is too hazardous. Continue reading

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Hiking Bumping Lake

Bumping Lake and its views are the centerpiece of this trail, and perhaps the best descriptions of the area come from William O. Douglas himself. In Of Men and Mountains, Douglas devotes a chapter to Jack Nelson and his wife Kitty, the first gatetenders of the Bumping Lake Dam (completed in 1913). The two made an excellent team and kept an eye on the lake for the next thirty years. Douglas would stop at their cabin as a young man and drink a cup of hot coffee before his own hikes along the trail and into the wilderness.

Today the Bumping Lake trail still offers unique old-growth conifer stands, a range of wildlife from elk to wetland dragonflies, and a deep connection to Washington history.

The trail starts in woods near cabins and heads quickly down to the lake shore. After filling out a wilderness permit, stop to admire the views of Nelson Ridge across the lake’s eastern end.

The trail then heads west, staying mostly above but near shore, traversing talus fields peppered with wildflowers. The hillside is steep in this first section, so access to the water is mostly visual. Look for large nests on the standing snags in the lake; the snags are remants of the former forest that stood here before the dam’s construction.

At about 1.5 miles, ford Boulder Creek; a stout footlog is presently available. The trail continues through forest, and at 3 miles, crosses Cedar Creek by another ford. Immediately across the creek, pass a good forest campsite on the right. Along this level stretch of trail look for giant Douglas firs and towering larches.

Wildflowers, including wild strawberries and cow parsnip, line parts of the trail, along with red elderberry and blueberries. You also can’t miss the spectacularly large anthills of the red ants, reaching 3 or more feet in height -- be careful of lingering too close to the piles of twigs and needles.

Soon the trail begins to climb gently, reaching the wilderness boundary and, shortly afterwards, the junction with the Swamp Lake Trail #970 at 4 miles. After this junction the trail descends to ford Cougar Creek. Use caution here early in the season (through roughly mid-July) when the water is high.

A quarter mile later the trail meets Fish Lake Way trail #971a. Here you have a range of options. Backtrack left along trail #971a for a short jaunt (.2 miles) to the Bumping River. Or, continue along trail #970 past meadows to Fish Lake (5.6 miles distant) and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Or, turn around here and hike the 4.5 miles back out to your car.

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

WTA worked here in 2018 and 2017!

Bumping Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.8570, -121.3199 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest 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 Chinook Pass drive east on State Route 410 for 19 miles to paved Bumping River Road. Turn right (left if coming from Yakima) and drive 11 miles. Make a sharp right turn at the large wooden marina sign on the paved road going across the Bumping Lake Dam. Just after the dam follow the road through a couple of short turns right and then left, then continue on the road, now gravel, past the marina and cabins to the road's end at 1.5 miles, elevation appx. 3400 feet.

More Hike Details


Mount Rainier Area > Chinook Pass - Hwy 410

Bumping Lake (#971)

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Naches Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps


Fred: Hiking Washington's William O. Douglas Wilderness. Morris Book Publishing

LLC. 2007.

Green Trails #271 Bumping Lake

Green Trails #303S Goat Rocks-William O. Douglas Wilderness

USGS Cougar Lake and Bumping Lake quads

USFS William O. Douglas and Norse Peak Wilderness

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Bumping Lake

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