Northern Loop (Mount Rainier)

A strenuous backpack of 37 miles and 11,500 feet of gain. Enjoy stunning views of Mount Rainier National Park. For those who need more adventure, there are a few good side trips. Challenging one-day adventures include Grand Park & Lake Eleanor and Mystic Lake.

getting there

From SR-410 turn onto the the White River Road. In 1.4 min stop at the White River Wilderness Information Center to obtain your permits. Follow the White River Road to its end at Sunrise (6,400 ft). 

on the trail

northern loop

37-mile loop with 9,000 feet of elevation gain, 6,800 ft high point

Experience the wonders of some of Mount Rainier National Park's most remote, pristine backcountry with ever-changing views of Mount Rainier and its glaciers. Traveling through forests, vast meadows, over ridges and tundra-like landscapes, rivers and past several lakes, with an array of wildlife.

Hiking the loop counterclockwise, you'll leave Sunrise and travel past Frozen Lake, through Berkeley Park and Grand Park. Then you'll descend to the White River and ascend back up to James and Ethel Lakes.  Next you'll pass through bear country under Yellowstone Cliffs and descend to the Carbon River.  Ascend with the Carbon Glacier to your right to Dick Creek (a nice place to relax on a hot day) and continue on to Mystic Lake.  Descend to Winthrop Creek and then back up, through Berkeley Park and back to Sunrise.

  • Side trips: Burroughs Mountain, Mount Fremont Lookout, Grand Park & Lake Eleanor, Natural Bridge, and Skyscraper Mountain.
  • Expect cool to warm days, freezing nights and possibly light snow.
  • The trail is a loop that may be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • Best done in 3-5 days, depending on your pace and side trips planned.

Grand Park & Lake Eleanor

12.4 miles round trip with 1,970 feet of elevation gain, 5,600 ft high point

Mystic Lake

18.4 miles round trip with 3,800 feet of elevation gain, 6,700 ft high point

Hike on the high altitude section of the Wonderland Trail to inviting Mystic Lake. Follow the Wonderland-Sourdough Ridge trail before proceeding on the Wonderland Trail through gorgeous meadows, which are popular with herds of mountain goats, over Skyscraper Pass (6700 ft). Continue downhill crossing roaring Winthrop Creek before heading up to the sparkling waters of Mystic Lake. Consider a side trip to Skyscraper Mountain.

  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking
  • Seasons: July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 37.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 9,000 ft
  • 6,800 ft
  • Land Manager: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking Permit Required: National Park Entrance Fee
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269SX
  • Trails Illustrated Mount Rainier National Park
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269
Trip Reports

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Northern Loop
  • Grand Park & Lake Eleanor
  • Grand Park
  • Lake Eleanor
  • Mystic Lake
  • Sunrise to Mystic Lake
  • Skyscraper Mountain & Mystic Lake

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