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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
- Distance: 9.9
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.
Location: 46.915309, -121.6487
Stay left on the lower road, following signs to Shadow Lake.
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The road ends at this trail junction: stay left, heading south toward Shadow Lake.
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Pass the side road leading to Sunrise Campground; continue heading south.
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Just past the campground, you’ll come to another trail junction. Turn right, heading west.
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.
Location: 46.9102, -121.674163
Stop on First Burroughs for views of Mount Rainier. Continue straight at this 3-way, heading west.
Location: 46.910772, -121.679871
Stay left at this 3-way trail junction and follow signs for Second Burroughs.
Location: 46.906213, -121.689827
Crest Second Burroughs Mountain, which has a commanding view of Mount Rainier. Next, backtrack to BUR008 and continue straight.
Location: 46.917544, -121.668584
Continue straight at this 4-way junction, and follow signs to Frozen Lake and Sourdough Ridge Trail.
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.
Location: 46.918464, -121.646674
Stay right at the trail fork, and descend the Sourdough ridgeline.
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Turn right at the 3-way junction, and walk across the Sunrise Meadows to the Sunrise parking lot.
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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.
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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.
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The trail runs along a rocky ridgeline with views toward Tamanos Mountain and Governors Ridge in the distance.
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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
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Descending Second Burroughs
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You’ll see the flat top of First Burroughs with Frozen Lake and the distant peaks beyond.
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.
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Take in final views across the Sunrise Meadows toward Sunrise.