Considered one of the best loop hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, the trail through the alpine meadows of Spray and Seattle Parks blazes with a bounty of seasonal wildflowers. Throw in an ample serving of glassy tarns, a couple of wispy waterfalls, an optional side trip to Carbon Glacier and a forested stroll up Ipsut Creek, and you have a photographer’s dreamland.
Starting at Mowich Lake, take a short jaunt south on the Wonderland Trail to the Spray Park junction. Merge onto the Spray Park Trail and make a gentle mile-long descent to the edge of Eagle Cliff. The trail then turns east, rounding Hessong Rock and passing the Eagle’s Roost wilderness camp. Shortly past the camp, take the 0.25-mile side trail to Spray Falls, a must-see.
After the falls, the trail vaults up 600 feet in the next half mile to the vast Spray Park meadows with views of Echo Rock, Observation Rock, and the Russell Glacier above. On bluebird days, the view north extends all the way to Washington’s North Cascades. Avoid trampling fragile vegetation by remaining on trails through this area. Plants that survive this harsh environment can easily be killed by a single bootstep.
From the 6,375-foot high point in Spray Park, begin a 3-mile descent through more wildflowers in Seattle Park, past Cataract Valley wilderness camp to the Carbon River junction and wilderness camp. From this point, the route continues on the Wonderland Trail, following the Carbon River north, then northwest. At the Ipsut Creek trail junction, fork right 0.3 mile for camping at the Ipsut creek camp, or continue past Ipsut Falls, now bearing southwest, and start a healthy 2,500-foot climb up to Ipsut Pass over the next three forested miles.
Finish your loop by turning left at the pass junction for a gentle climb along the flank of Castle Peak before dropping the last mile back down to your starting point at Mowich Lake.
WTA Pro Tip: For twice the meadows, flowers, lakes, jaw-dropping views—and mileage—try the 33-mile Northern Loop Trail.
Extend Your Hike: Make your hike an overnight trip by staying at one of four campgrounds along the loop: Mowich Lake (10 sites), Eagle’s Roost (seven sites), Cataract Valley (seven sites), Carbon River (five sites), and Ipsut Creek (13 sites).
Spray Park Loop
- 16.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 5100 feet
- Highest Point
- 6375 feet
Mowich Lake Road is closed for the season
Hiking Spray Park Loop
Spray Park Loop
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 46.9331, -121.8643 Open in Google Maps