Glacier Basin (Mount Rainier)


Backpack - Glacier Basin (Mount Rainier)

Leisurely overnight trip at Glacier Basin, with opportunities to visit the Emmons Moraine overlook and explore the basin.

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 8.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,000 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2mph moving pace

Those who wish to carpool will meet in Enumclaw (place TBD) at 8:30AM with up to two cars listed on the permit. Those who don’t participate in the carpools will be responsible for securing their own timed entry to Mount Rainier’s White River entrance and meet at White River Campground. Note that there is very little cell reception after leaving Enumclaw, so carpooling is encouraged. We will aim to start hiking by 10AM.

Everyone should bring $4 to cover the cost of the camping permit reservation (cash or venmo ok). Gas costs should be shared within each carpool, as well as park entry fee ($30) if nobody in the car has an America the Beautiful pass. 

We will be on the traditional land of the Puyallup people and acknowledge that they have lived on and stewarded these lands since the beginning of time, and continue to do so today. In choosing to recreate here, we will do so respectfully, mindful to subvert any attitude of conquest.

Trail & Pace

Day 1: 4.1 miles, 2,070’ elevation gain
Optional additional 1.5 miles, 900’ elevation gain

We will start on the Glacier Basin Trail, which follows the Inter Fork of the White River up the path of an old mining road. Shortly after starting, we’ll deviate to the Emmons Moraine trail for our first big views of the day. We’ll take a snack or lunch break here while we appreciate the view of the largest glacier in the lower 48 and the milky blue lake that it feeds. We’ll then head back to the Glacier Basin trail to continue our hike to camp.

We will stick together at a casual pace of 1.5-2mph, or slower depending on the impact of midsummer heat. The trail to camp has a steady, gradual incline and goes in and out of the trees to provide considerable shade. 

Upon arriving at Glacier Basin (6000’), we will set up camp and then decide as a group whether or not to explore further. If conditions allow for a safe crossing of Inter Fork River, we may venture up the climbers trail to the ridge overlooking the Emmons glacier (an additional 900’ elevation gain and 1.5 miles round trip); on this portion we would encounter a water crossing followed by a steeper, more exposed trail. Another option is to continue up the basin towards St Elmo pass to a viewpoint at 6600’. Yet another option is to find a nice spot near camp to enjoy each other's company and watch for wildlife. 

Day 2: 3.2 miles, 1,770 elevation loss

We will enjoy a leisurely morning and anticipate returning to the cars around noon. As is customary, please do not make afternoon or evening plans in case of a later exit. 

Camp details

We have a permit for the group site at Glacier Basin, which should comfortably fit our group. We will have access to the Inter Fork River for water, a bear pole for food storage (to be confirmed), and a privy. We will hopefully be past the worst of the summer bugs, but appropriate protection is still recommended.

As we spend time in such a beautiful place, we may include some intentional down time to read, nap, meditate, or sketch.

Leader permission

Please submit your request for leader permission on or after June 24. Requests sent before June 24 will be disregarded. 

In order to ensure that everyone has adequate gear and experience for a successful trip that mitigates our impact, please answer the following questions:

  1. Did you read the full trip details? Are you comfortable with the itinerary as described?
  2. Have you been backpacking in the last 3 years on a trip where you were responsible for your own gear (tent, stove, food, water filter, etc)?
  3. If you answered yes to question 2, please briefly describe one recent trip, including mileage, elevation gain, number of days, and one way that you followed the principles of low-impact recreation (aka Leave No Trace). 
    If you answered no to question 2, please share what interests you about this trip and describe one hike you’ve done recently (including mileage and elevation gain). I will follow up with further questions.

This is a mentored backpack trip for Mckenzie.


Glacier Basin (Mount Rainier)

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food*
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Sandals or water shoes for a possible water crossing

*We will confirm that there is a bear pole up closer to the trip. If there is a bear pole, no canister or cord will be needed; a waterproof stuff sack will suffice.

Trip Reports