|Day Hikes in Mt. Rainier NP|
[See guide below for accessibility to the day hike.]
Guide to Map
Trail Rating Guide
The hikes are catagorized as:
Easy, a hike shorter than 3 miles or no significant elevation gain;
Moderate, a hike of 3 to 6 miles or with some elevation gain, some hiking experience helpful;
Hard, a hike of 6-10 miles or with significant elevation gain, some hiking experience necessary;
Difficult, a hike longer than 10 miles or with major elevation gain, only for the experienced hiker in one day.
Day Hike Information
The "information window" for each day hike has the following information for each hike:
The first advisory is about wildflower meadows and open areas. This applies from spring during snowmelt through the bloom of the wildflowers and seasonal growth of the bushes to the first snows of fall.
Stay on the designated paths and trails in the meadows, especially when snow covered.
You may not leave a trace, but others may not be so cautious and careful about their footprint in environmentally sensitive areas. This is especially important in the late snowmelt season where hiking on the thin snowpack can damage the fragile meadows underneath. In addition you will run the risk of being given a ticket by a Park Ranger for violating the rules (which all visitors accept when entering the NP).
The second advisory is about glaciers. Besides the dangers of being close to glaciers, especially near or below the terminus of a glacier, there is one important point.
When viewing glaciers up close, you should respect the glacier, which are in constant movement and change and creating dangerous situations for anyone close. This is especially true near the terminus (end) of the glacier, where ice is breaking off. An advisory about glaciers.
Do not go on a glacier without experienced hikers or climbers and the proper equipment.
Glaciers are inviting to hike and explore. But they are dangerous for the inexperienced and ill-prepared hikers. Glaciers are very dynamic and constantly changing environments, so it's best to view and photograph them, but don't go on them without guides and equipment.
Another constant problem is the flow below a glacier where the diurnal flow varys as water in the glacier freezes at night and thaws during the day. This causes a cyclical flow in the river below the glacier. This effect extends later in the day going downstream. This is important if you wade across a glacer or snowfed-stream.
Use caution crossing glacier-fed streams and creeks and follow proper crossing technique.
A potential serious problem glaciers are outburst floods. This usually occur in late summer after extended warm periods, but not restricted to these factors. Outburst floods happen when a rapid melting or breaking occurs within the lower end of the glacier causing an extreme amout of glacial ice and material to flow downstream in a wave, such as happened in recent years on Kautz and Tahoma Creeks.
In short, be careful around the terminus of glaciers and in the river channel below glaciers. Be alert to unusual sounds and other signs and move immediately (laterally) up the valley in event of unusual sounds or conditions coming downstream. And always follow the proper crossing technique.
The last advisory is about guns. Beginning February 22, 2010, openly carrying guns in the NP is legal and concealed with a legal permit. However, there are a number of conditions, which you can find here with links to additional information.
It is illegal to carry a gun indoors and it is illegal to use or fire a gun anywhere in the NP.
This is especially important in the visitors areas, the campgrounds, on the trails, and in the backcountry. You can only openly carry a gun or concealed with the proper (state) permit) and nothing else. You can not unholster, use or discharge the weapon anytime or anywhere in the NP. The NPS has trained and instructed the park and backcountry rangers to treat all visitors as if they are carrying a gun unless it is clear the visitor is not carrying a gun.
Currently there are three excellent books, nos. 1-3 below, and two pamphlets, no. 4, for day hikes in Mt. Rainier NP. Please note the advisory above about the Carbon River (Northwest Quadrant) since the extra distance is not included in the descriptions in older (pre-2007) books. This does limit the number of day hikes from this entrance to the moderate or harder, some hikes requiring a backcountry permit for overnight camping to get to the trailhead.
Books identified in trail information window, by number are:
The NPS has a description of many of these trails on their trail descriptions. In addition to hiking guides, you will need to remember two things. The first is having a good daypack with the ten essentials along with other things you want to take with you. The second is simple, a map. And you can find sources for maps and download DRG files of USGS topo maps.
Please use the contact link to send e-mail.
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