Northern Loop (Mount Rainier)

The Northern Loop in Mount Rainier National Park is 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.

driving directions

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

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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Default Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland No. 269S
  • Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270
  • Trails Illustrated Mount Rainier National Park
  • Red Marker
    46.914010, -121.641973
    46.9140103788 -121.641973277
  • Red Marker
    46.949785, -121.795042
    46.9497853755 -121.795041533

Upcoming Activities

There are no activities scheduled at this location.

Trip Reports

There are no resources for this route/place. Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.