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Government Meadows

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- Chinook Pass - Hwy 410

Length

1.6 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 200 ft.
Highest Point: 4860 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2016
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

How to get to Government Meadows, with its flowers, berries, and cabin?  Let me count the ways…

  1. Ride your favorite motorcycle up the trail from FS Road 70.
  2. Drive your 4x4 carefully up the Naches Trail (aka State Route 168!) from the west or east and park in the lot. 
  3. Ride your horse or hike from the horse camp to the Pacific Crest Trail (northbound).
  4. Hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail from Pyramid Pass or from the informal access point east of the pass.
  5. In winter, ride your snowmobile from the Pyramid Creek SnoPark and enjoy a warm fire in the Urich Cabin.

The shortest way to the meadows starts at the informal Pacific Crest Trail access point on FS Rd 787. Follow the access trail southwest for 20 yards and turn left (southbound) at the unmarked junction onto the Pacific Crest Trail. The 0.8-mile hike is initially in a second growth forest and then transitions to an old growth forest as it gradually climbs through a low pass and descends toward Government Meadows. 

You know you’re getting close when you cross the Naches Trail (4x4 trail) and get to the edge of the parking lot with a trailhead sign. Continue past the trailhead sign, an information sign about the Longmire Party of 1853, and the Mike Urich cabin to reach the meadows.

A longer alternative is 3.0 miles round trip. It starts at the Government Meadows Horse Camp/Trailhead at the end of FS Road 70. The trail starts on an abandoned road in the remnants of an old clearcut, which is now grass, small trees, and brush. It then enters a two-tiered forest of old growth trees with a seedling understory. The PCT is reached in 0.8 mile, at elevation 4880 feet, not the quarter mile on the sign to the west of the junction. 

Turn left (northbound) onto the Pacific Crest trail and follow it for 0.7 mile to Government Meadows. The pleasant walk through old growth forest has glimpses of the meadows through the trees and crosses the outlet stream on a bridge before reaching the cabin and the meadows.

The cabin is named after local forester, Mike Urich and is maintained by the Sno-Jammers Snowmobile Club. It has a wood stove and a loft (ladder access). A few yards away are two outhouses.

Seasonal Notes

  • Bugs can be bothersome in early summer, especially if walking through the meadows stirring up the mosquitos.
  • In summer, the expansive meadows are dotted with flowers and in quiet periods at dawn and dusk, elk and deer graze on the far reaches.
  • In late summer the berries are ripe, both north and south of the meadows, and in the surrounding forest.
  • In the crisp cold air of fall, orange (or pink) is the seasonal clothing color as the hunters are out looking for deer and elk.
 

Government Meadows

Map & Directions

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- Chinook Pass - Hwy 410

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

Guidebooks & Maps

Hiking Washington’s History (Bentley

2010)

Buy the Green Trails Lester No. 239 map

Getting There

From Enumclaw, take SR 410 eastbound for 20 miles to FS Road 70 (located between SR 410 MP 44 and MP 45). Turn left onto FS Road 70 and follow it for 15.3 miles (10.0 miles on pavement, then 5.3 miles on gravel) to a junction.

For the shortest hike, turn left at the junction at 15.3 miles onto FS Road 7080, a somewhat rough gravel road, going 1.6 miles to Pyramid Pass, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the road.  After the pass, the road changes to FS Road 787 (no sign) as it starts a descent into the Little Naches River drainage.  From the pass go 0.3 mile on FS Road 787 to a pullout on the left and an unmarked trail on the right.  Park in the pullout, which has no signs or amenities.

For the hike from the Government Meadows Horse Camp, go straight at the junction at 15.3 miles.  After 0.4 mile is a junction, take the right branch for the horse camp. The next 1.0 mile is very rough and rutted with many side roads. Stay on the main road to reach the trailhead, which has ample parking, a trailhead sign, and a vault toilet.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Government Meadows

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