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.
- Distance: 15.3
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.
Location: 46.918548, -121.646842
Crest Sourdough Ridge and veer left onto the Sourdough Ridge Trail.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location: 47.004693, -121.615503
Cross Lost Creek, which flows into Huckleberry Creek ahead. Continue north through mossy forest.
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
Location: 46.960632, -121.649766
Location: 46.994422, -121.618052