|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Although this 12.5-mile loop can easily be done in a day, savor it over the course of a weekend. The numerous side trips along this route lead to stunning views of glaciers, expansive valleys, and Washington's signature mountain. Start at the Glacier Basin trailhead in the White River Campground, and hike west on a wide, smooth trail that was reconstructed after the 2007 washout.
At mile one, fork left at the junction with Emmons Moraine Trail for a .4-mile (one-way) detour to a viewpoint overlooking the 4.3-square-mile Emmons Glacier (the largest glacier in the Lower 48). Backtrack to the main trail and turn left for a gradual climb up the valley. At mile 3.2, continue straight at the 3-way junction with Burroughs Mountain/Sunrise Trails, and continue another 0.7 mile to the Glacier Basin Camp. A half-mile walk farther up the valley leads to five-star views of The Wedge and the entire basin.
The next day, return to the junction with Burroughs Mountain/Sunrise Trails, and turn left. It's a grueling, two-mile climb, first on short, forested switchbacks, then on open slopesides with stunning views of Rainier’s northeast flank. The grade lessens for the last 0.75-mile stretch to the summit of Second Burroughs. Drop your pack for a snack or early lunch, and soak up the views; clear days offer 360-degree views of Rainier towering to the south, and north to Glacier Peak and beyond.
Next, descend Burroughs Mountain, passing through alpine tundra for the next mile; fork left at a junction to Frozen Lake. Here, more side trip options are available (descend 2.2 miles west to Berkley Park in the next valley, or hike 1.3 miles north to the Mt. Freemont Lookout). To continue the loop, turn southeast on the Wonderland Trail, following signs for Shadow Lake. The trail descends a mile through pleasant alpine meadows. Spend the second night at Sunrise Camp.
The next morning, hop back on the Wonderland Trail, and follow it east, then north, curving around Shadow Lake to a junction with the Silver Forest Trail. Turn right, staying on the Wonderland, for a 2.6-mile, bone-jarring descent that drops 2,000 feet in elevation back to the White River Campground.
INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping-and-hiking.htm.
PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations requests accepted by fax or mail, starting on March 15th of each year ($20/reservation). Download form at nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-reservation-information.htm.
CONTACT Mt. Rainier National Park, (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/mora
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo