Wilson Park

Enjoy solitude, breathtaking flowers, meandering meadows, glacial vistas, and herds of wildlife, while scrambling all within a mile of the crowds at the Comet Falls Trailhead on Mount Rainer's southern flank. Scrambling to Wilson Park, the area just below the Wilson Glacier, is often combined with Van Trump Park to make a loop trip of roughly 7 miles and 4,300 feet of elevation gain.

getting there

From SR-7 in Elbe, turn east onto SR-706, both known as the National Park Highway. Continue through the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. Be prepared to pay the fee just after entering the park. Drive Continue 13 miles to parking lot at the Nisqually Bridge (3,900 ft).

In winter, ALL drivers in the park are required to carry snow chains or equivalent traction devices—this includes those with a 4-wheel or  all-wheel drive vehicle. Those without a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle may be required to install them at Longmire or beyond.

Approach & Ascent

Van TrumP Park—Wilson Park Traverse

7.0 miles round trip, 4,300 feet of elevation gain, Difficulty: Strenuous 4, Technical 5

From the Nisqually Bridge parking lot (3,900 ft) walk a bit west on the road's wide shoulder, then cross the road and ascend the ridge just east of the Nahunta Falls stream (another smaller stream, not shown on maps, is on the east side of this ridge).  At 5,200 ft after following intermittent game trails the ridge finally eases and opens into the first of many meadows. Continue up the ridge crest meandering through stunning meadows and stands of trees (a particularly noxious mosquito pond is at 5,500 ft) before finally breaking out into continuous meadows and their beautiful flowers at 5,700 ft. Cross Cushman Crest at 6,200 ft and enjoy a glimpse of the route upwards along the west side of the cleaver. At 6,800 ft, enjoy  sweeping views to the south of Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens. Continue up the west side of the Van Trump and cross it at 8,000 ft. The steep/loose rock near this crossing is made less difficult by early season snows. An easier but longer crossing is a bit higher at 8,200 ft. After crossing the cleaver, descend the stagnant glacier to the col at 7,700 ft where there are views of the Wilson and Nisqually Glaciers. Continue down the stagnant glacier and the talus below it to the broad bowl of meadows at 6,100 ft. Traverse the meadow and descend the ridge back to  the Nisqually Bridge.


  • There is high risk of rockfall at the Van Trump Cleaver crossing at ~8,200 ft. From below it looks very manageable as you approach it. Larger rocks are loose and at risk of tumbling down, and stepping on smaller rocks and dirt tends to destabilize the larger rocks above—it's possible that rocks sliding down the slope could pin a leg. Other crossings nearby require a few moves of low 5th class climbing.
  • Even on a very warm sunny day crossing the edge of the Wilson Glacier above the 7,700 ft col there are afternoon shadows below rock bands that keep it frozen. Crampons are recommended here.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous 4, Technical 5
  • Length: 7.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,300 ft
  • 8,000 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
  • USGS Mt Rainier West
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.

  • Cushman Crest
  • Van Trump Park
  • Van Trump Park—Wilson Park Traverse
  • Van Trump Park & Wilson Park Loop
  • Wilson Park—Van Trump Park Traverse
  • Wilson Park & Van Trump Park Loop
Topo Map: Cushman Crest—Wilson Cleaver Traverse Route

A topo map with the Cushman Crest—Wilson Cleaver Traverse route create by Dave Morgan Aug 2020.

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