Mount Rainier National Park: Huckleberry Creek

Hike one of the loneliest trails in Mount Rainier National Park on this 9.5-mile shuttle hike. You'll start high in alpine tundra, descend past a lovely lake, and trek through mossy old-growth forest.
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Hike one of the loneliest trails in Mount Rainier National Park on this 9.5-mile shuttle hike. You'll start high in alpine tundra, descend past a lovely lake, and trek through mossy old-growth forest.

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 Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography

TO TRAILHEAD: Shuttle car: From Enumclaw, drive east on SR 410 to just past the “Mount Rainier Viewpoint” parking area and turn right onto FR 73. Just before crossing a bridge over Huckleberry Creek, find a place to park your shuttle car.

To trailhead: Drive your other car back to SR 410, turn right, and continue into Mount Rainier National Park. Turn right into the well-signed White River/Sunrise Entrance to the park. Follow the road to Sunrise Visitor Center.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 15.3

Waypoints

HCK001

Location: 46.914569, -121.642385

Leave the large parking lot near the Sunrise Visitor Center and head north uphill on the trail leading up to Sourdough Ridge. Don’t worry about the crowds; they'll diminish once you hit the Huckleberry Creek Trail.

HCK002

Location: 46.918548, -121.646842

Crest Sourdough Ridge and veer left onto the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

HCK003

Location: 46.919172, -121.653642

Turn right onto the well-signed Huckleberry Creek Trail and tackle a steep, but brief, uphill. Enjoy the last views of Mount Rainier from this lofty ridgetop (and wave goodbye to the crowds).

HCK004

Location: 46.919588, -121.655076

This pass on Sourdough Ridge overlooks the stunning basin below Mount Fremont to the northwest and the rugged talus slopes (home to marmots) you’ll descend for the next 1.5 miles. Scan the high rocky ridges around you for mountain goats, the sky for soaring raptors, including golden eagles; and the talus for pika, marmots, and martens.

HCK005

Location: 46.931151, -121.654572

After a forested stretch of trail, drop into a series of meadows (near the headwaters of Huckleberry Creek) filled with gentians, paintbrush, purple aster, lupine, Indian paintbrush, and beargrass. You may also spot elk grazing in these meadows.

HCK006

Location: 46.932349, -121.652271

Most hikers turn around at Forest Lake and Forest Lake Camp. Set up your tent, or take a snack break, at this serene backcountry camp (tip: bring repellent; there are lots of bugs in early summer). Next, the trail descends steeply through dense old-growth fir and hemlock.

HCK007

Location: 46.93588, -121.643658

Find the best spot to cross the creek (swollen with water in early summer due to snowmelt); the log bridge was washed out in 2009. This crossing is east after mid-August.

HCK008

Location: 46.955926, -121.649302

The trail traces the top of a very deep and narrow gorge. Continue onward, passing through many massive old-growth trees. Cross numerous creeks, some tiny, some more significant, but all manageable by late August.

HCK009

Location: 46.9944, -121.618503

Pass the old, weather-beaten Huckleberry Creek Patrol Cabin. In roughly 100 yards, look for the old survey markers at the northern boundary to Mount Rainier National Park. Next, hike north into Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

HCK010

Location: 47.004693, -121.615503

Cross Lost Creek, which flows into Huckleberry Creek ahead. Continue north through mossy forest.

HCK011

Location: 47.009208, -121.617007

The route ends at FR 73. Pick up your shuttle car and drive back to Sunrise Visitor Center.

Descending the Sourdough Mountains

Location: 46.91964, -121.654701

Old-Growth Forest

Location: 46.960632, -121.649766

Patrol Cabin

Location: 46.994422, -121.618052