September 5, 2011
Our intended hike was to start at Mowich Lake and hike up to Seattle Park via the Spray Park Trail. Once to Seattle Park we would go back the way we came back down to the Spray Park Trail and then return to Mowich Lake via the Wonderland Trail. This did not happen…
Mt. Rainier — NW – Carbon River / Mowich Mt. Rainier National Park
View Mowich lake in a larger map
Take Rt. 167 to Rt. 410 East to Buckley. Drive 11.3 miles and take a right on Mundy Loss Rd. After 1.2 miles take a left onto Rt. 162/Pioneer Way E. Then after .3 miles Rt. 162 becomes Rt. 165 proceed through Carbonado and after the Carbon River Gorge bridge turn right onto Mowich Lake Road. Follow the road about 17 miles to its end; the trailhead is at the far end, (the last 14 miles are dirt).
Guide books and Maps:
Green Trails Plain, WA #269
Fees or Passes:
National Park/Refuge entry fee required
The Numbers: (for Mowich Lake to Seattle Park, ours were different due to our getting misplaced)
Roundtrip: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 2850 ft
Highest Point: 5200 ft
The trail is in very good condition. If your away from any streams or snow melt the trail is extremely dry/dusty. You definitely don’t want to be playing with matches while you hike. You will hit snow towards the upper part of Spray Park as you get above tree line. If you continue to Seattle Park as we did it’s a mixture of snow fields and rock gardens.
What to expect:
If you go on the weekend don’t expect to park in the parking lot. Expect to walk/hike to the trail head. This is a popular place. Most day hikers only go as far as Spray Park so if you want to have a quiet moment in the woods alone keep going and the crowds will be gone.
The trail ungulates up and down for the 1.8 miles up to Spray Falls. At this point the trail turns upwards in a set of switchbacks that reminded me of hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It’s another 2.1 miles to the junction where the trail for Seattle Park turns off to the right. As you exit the switchbacks the forest opens up into beautiful alpine meadows and incredible views. The further you go on the trail the more open it becomes and the large Rainier looms above you. The mosquitoes can be bad up here so bring some sort of protection and the sunscreen as well.
You can expect to see waterfalls, wild flowers, alpine meadows, small cirque, mountain views, marmots, deer, goats, pikas and birds. Because you’re above tree line the possibilities to explore are endless. Just be careful not to trample on the alpine vegetation.
Local Groups/Clubs/Bike Shop:
Get out there!