Mount Rainier National Park: Burroughs Mountain Loop

On this 6.1-mile lollipop loop, you'll crest two summits on Burroughs Mountain, trace the Sourdough Mountains' ridgeline, and take in views of Mount Rainier, the Emmons Glacier, and 11,138-foot Little Tahoma Peak.
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On this 6.1-mile lollipop loop, you'll crest two summits on Burroughs Mountain, trace the Sourdough Mountains' ridgeline, and take in views of Mount Rainier, the Emmons Glacier, and 11,138-foot Little Tahoma Peak.

This worthy, 6.1-mile dayhike links some of the most scenic trails in the Sunrise area for big views across the park. Start at the southwest corner of the parking lot near the Sunrise Ranger Station, and follow the gravel access road for less than half a mile to where the road forks. Stay left for a gradual descent through alpine meadows that feature southwest views of Mount Rainier. At the end of the road, stay left, heading south toward Shadow Lake and Sunrise Camp (several campsites and a covered shelter).

Just past the last campsite, turn right for a climb to Emmons Glacier overlook, a 6,400-foot perch with larger-than-life views of Little Tahoma Peak, the Emmons Glacier (the largest glacier in the Lower 48), and Steamboat Prow, a triangular formation of rock that divides the Emmons and Winthrop Glacier. Look for the headwaters of the White River—a small ribbon of water flowing from the snout of the Emmons Glacier.

Next, traverse west along the ridge to the table-flat top of First Burroughs, one of three summits that dot the Burroughs Mountain ridgeline. To the north, Berkeley Park’s meadows are nestled between Skyscraper Peak and Mount Fremont. To the west-northwest, the couloirs on Old Desolate’s southeast face look like a large bear claw raked it from top to bottom.

At mile 2.6, turn left at the T-junction and continue climbing to the top of wind-blown, 7,402-foot Second Burroughs. Find the round, rock throne that faces the mountain—and provides some protection from the wind—and soak up the commanding view of Rainier.

When you’re ready, turn around and retrace your steps to the last trail junction; stay straight and follow it down the north side of Burroughs to a 4-way trail junction at mile 4.6. Continue straight, following signs for Sourdough Ridge Trail and Frozen Lake. At mile 5.8, descend the Sourdough Ridge Trail, crossing through meadows surrounding the main facilities, and return to your car.

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 David Tate

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 9.9

Waypoints

BUR001

Location: 46.91407, -121.642814

The trail begins at the southwestern end of the parking lot near the Sunrise Ranger Station (resembles a cavalry fort's blockhouse). Follow it to the west.

BUR002

Location: 46.915309, -121.6487

Stay left on the lower road, following signs to Shadow Lake.

BUR003

Location: 46.91572, -121.659284

The road ends at this trail junction: stay left, heading south toward Shadow Lake.

BUR004

Location: 46.913982, -121.659068

Pass the side road leading to Sunrise Campground; continue heading south.

BUR005

Location: 46.910662, -121.65998

Just past the campground, you'll come to another trail junction. Turn right, heading west.

BUR006

Location: 46.908457, -121.659748

Emmons Overlook: Stop for far-reaching views of Rainier and the Emmons Glacier; views stretch from the top of the mountain all the way down to the White River valley below.

BUR007

Location: 46.9102, -121.674163

Stop on First Burroughs for views of Mount Rainier. Continue straight at this 3-way, heading west.

BUR008

Location: 46.910772, -121.679871

Stay left at this 3-way trail junction and follow signs for Second Burroughs.

BUR009

Location: 46.906213, -121.689827

Crest Second Burroughs Mountain, which has a commanding view of Mount Rainier. Next, backtrack to BUR008 and continue straight.

BUR010

Location: 46.917544, -121.668584

Continue straight at this 4-way junction, and follow signs to Frozen Lake and Sourdough Ridge Trail.

BUR011

Location: 46.919141, -121.665173

The trail passes Frozen Lake (a ledge of ice and snow cover its banks in spring and early summer), which provides the fresh water supply for the Sunrise area.

BUR012

Location: 46.918464, -121.646674

Stay right at the trail fork, and descend the Sourdough ridgeline.

BUR013

Location: 46.917149, -121.643745

Turn right at the 3-way junction, and walk across the Sunrise Meadows to the Sunrise parking lot.

BUR014

Location: 46.914598, -121.642256

The loop ends across from the parking lot where you started.

Ranger Station at Sunrise

Location: 46.914319, -121.643028

The ranger station is boarded up for the winter.

Sunrise Trailhead

Location: 46.914085, -121.642578

Little Tahoma peeks out from behind trees and clouds.

Little Tahoma and Emmons Glacier

Location: 46.914422, -121.646848

From the very beginning, you'll get great views of the mountain.

Sunrise Campground

Location: 46.913997, -121.658918

Emmons Overlook

Location: 46.908471, -121.659583

Trail Views

Location: 46.908002, -121.669486

The trail runs along a rocky ridgeline with views toward Tamanos Mountain and Governors Ridge in the distance.

Mount Rainier

Location: 46.908324, -121.670001

Lenticular clouds cover the top of Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier from First Burroughs Mountain

Location: 46.9102, -121.673949

Burroughs Mountain Views

Location: 46.910787, -121.679571

From this vantage point along the rim, you'll see Berkeley Park, Skyscraper Mountain, and its same-name pass. Old Desolate rises in the background.

View from Second Burroughs

Location: 46.906184, -121.689634

Descending Second Burroughs

Location: 46.908148, -121.687617

You'll see the flat top of First Burroughs with Frozen Lake and the distant peaks beyond.

Frozen Lake

Location: 46.916122, -121.670794

Look for Frozen Lake in the distance. You can also see the Sourdough Ridge Trail running through talus fields.

Sourdough Ridge Views

Location: 46.9192, -121.65556

From the ridge trail, look back toward Mount Rainier and the meadows around Sunrise Camp and Shadow Lake.

Sunrise Meadows

Location: 46.917617, -121.645045

Take in final views across the Sunrise Meadows toward Sunrise.