Olallie Creek

Olallie is a beautiful and unique canyon in Mt. Rainier National Park that provides a fun, moderate day for a canyon team. During August and September, it runs at v3a3III.

GETTING THERE

Drive to the Stevens Canyon entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, the parks southeast corner. Park in the first parking lot on the right, the trailhead parking for Grove of the Patriarchs. This is a popular area, so it's best to arrive early. Leave as many cars here as possible, and then shuttle the party ~5 minutes up the road to the pullout for the Cowlitz Divide Trailhead.

APPROACH

Follow the Cowlitz Divide Trail for ~2 miles. At the 3rd major switchback, drop off the trail and descend through the woods to the middle of the creek. For a longer day, follow the trail another 0.75 mile before dropping into the creek. The upper creek is full of beautiful bedrock, a few short rappels, and a number of down-climbs.

DESCENT 

Full Route

For the full route, turn off the trail at ~3,600 ft and bushwhack down to the creek. The full route adds on an additional 0.6 mile of creek walking, 6+ rappels, spicy down-climbing, crystal clear pools, and beautiful rock beds.

There are at least 6-10 additional down-climbs that can be done as rappels based on flow and comfort level that are not documented in the beta.

  • R1: 30 feet DCL - tree
  • R2: 30 feet DCR - boulder
  • R3: 90 feet Center - log spanning the creek
  • R4: 20 feet DCR - tree
  • R5: 20 feet Center - log spanning the creek
  • R6: 30 feet DCL - tree. In higher flow, the water forms a curtain that you can swim behind.

Main Technical Section

The more technical portion begins at R7. If only descending this portion, veer off the trail at the third switchback (46.7723, -121.5693) and traverse/bushwhack to the top of first large sequence at 2,980 ft elevation (46.7752, -121.5644). There is no evidence of a trail here.

  • R7, R8, R9 are done in sequence to get to the canyon floor.
  • R7: 50 feet DCL - tree about 20 feet back from the lip. Rappel or controlled slide into a deep pool. In high flow, check for hydraulics and assess the risk of getting swept over the next fall from this ledge.  A 200-foot rope from this anchor will get you to the rock sling at R9, however the rope pull here is not ideal and rope retrieval issues are a concern, so consider using the R8 anchor.
  • R8: 115 feet DCR - tree about 15 feet above water level. Send your strongest climber up to this anchor first to help others up. The scramble up is a bit loose and offers poor holds which can make it a bit difficult. This anchor was visible from R7 in 2019. This rappel creates an awkward fall line which also crosses sharp rock. A direct rappel from R7 to R9 is the preferred line, but the R8 anchor is helpful in high flow or for those concerned with rope pull.
  • R9: 60 feet DCL - rock sling from a boulder wedged in a pothole.
  • R10: High Flow: 50 feet DCL - tree. Scramble up a path DCL and rappel from a tree in the center of the canyon. This rappel is away from the watercourse. Moderate to low flow: Find or build an anchor using the many boulders in the watercourse. Note that the creek bends abruptly DCL past the boulder, so beware rope pinching which could interfere with retrieval from below.

At the base of this rappel, look back upstream and look for flow stone and some small stalagmites on the right. 

  • R11: 15 feet DCL - boulder into the narrows. Walk through a gorgeous corridor with slightly slanted walls for about 50 yards. 
  • R12: 100 feet DCL - tree DCL.
  • R13: 200 feet DCL in MULTIPLE stages (Apparition Falls). It is the most technical part of the canyon, and in high flow can be very dangerous. The water here funnels into a narrow chute about 3 feet wide. There are many large logs, rocks, and pinch points that can easily trap ropes when pulled. It is better to do this rappel in at least three stages of no more than approximately 60 feet each.
    • First stage: 60 feet from a log DCL to the top of a large wedged log and other debris. At high flows, the concentrated water in the chute is very powerful and can be enough to knock you off your feet. Spray coming in from the sides of the chute result in very poor visibility. At low flows, the chute is pushy but not dangerous, and manageable for most canyoners. It is preferable for the first rappeller to deploy rope from a bag as they go to avoid dropping a rope into the strainer.
    • Second stage: 20 feet webbing anchor around the large log/debris pile (room enough for 2-3 people comfortably, but beware of loose logs/false floor) to a bunch of jagged rocks in a flattish corridor.
    • Third stage: 50-60 feet from a log or rocks. Rap down a couple of small drops then through the final chute in full flow unless stemming above the water. Alternatively, this drop can be DCed by the very skilled by "chimneying" down the final chute.
  • R14: 50 feet DCR - log
  • R15: 30 feet Center - log 
  • R16: 25 feet DCL - log. This rappel is undercut and free-hanging. Use caution at the start, and enjoy rappelling behind the veil!
  • R17: 20 feet DCL - large tree.

Walk the remaining creek until you hit a footbridge, ~5-10min. There is some down-climbing and slippery bedrock to walk on along the way or exit on left and bushwack parallel to river down to the bridge.

EXIT

Walk the creek to the bridge. climb up to the trail, and walk about a mile out back to the Grove of the Patriarchs parking lot.

EQUIPMENT

Standard canyoning gear including webbing, a wrench, and replacement quick links. This canyon uses only natural anchors so be prepared to replace webbing as needed.

TRIP PROFILE

  • Rappels: 10-17
  • Longest Rappel: 200 feet
  • Approach: ~ 1.5 miles
  • Exit: ~1 mile 
  • Time: 6-9 hours total

NOTES

  • This canyon is rated v3a3III at moderate-low water levels, and v4a4III in early to mid-season. 
  • For more information and recent trip reports from the community, visit the Olallie Creek  listing at ropewiki.
  • Difficulty: Basic Canyon
  • Length: 2.5 mi
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 8
  • Maximum Party Size: 10
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 8
Map
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
  • USGS Chinook Pass
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  • Waterbroke Canyon
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