Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Scarface–Grand Park Traverse

An easy trip to visit a Rainier 100 peak and see some wildflowers. Bonus great views from a provincial peak on the way.

  • Road rough but passable
  • The trail from forest road 7360 starts off a bit muddy and then heads into a few patches of deeper mud.  This mud is unavoidable so just walk through it with care since some sections can and will swallow your entire foot.  The bugs were bad the entire trip especially when we stopped.

We started our trip up the Lake Eleanor trail at around 7:45 in the morning.  The road to the trail head was in fair condition, which means potholes that can be avoided for the most part.  At this time the parking area for the trail head was full with people already parking along the road.  

The trail starts off a little muddy as you leave the road then gives you hope that it won't be that bad as it dries out as you approach the sign indicating you are entering the National Park.  From this point on you will encounter a couple of very bad patches of mud on your way to the lake.  We tried following Leave No Trace principles and walking on the trail through the mud and were quickly rewarded with nearly loosing a boot and foot to the mud.   What we found worked the best was to step on strategically placed sticks in the mud to spread your weight out and move through it.


Once we were past the few muddy sections the trail became nice all the way to Lake Eleanor.  We took a quick break at the lake and then headed down the trail again to the east ridge approach to Scarface.  

The East ridge approach initially had lots of blow downs that are easily navigated over and around.  We quickly gained elevation towards the three rocky outcroppings that the Guide to 100 peaks  at Mt. Rainier book advises you to avoid by going low and climbers left around.  We did that for the first two outcropping but for the third rock outcropping located at around 5,700 feet in elevation we decided to go over the top after reading previous reviews of the traverse around this area being not so fun.  Going over the top was easily done after a quick rock scramble to gain the ridge.   Once on the ridge we were rewarded with some of the best views of the entire trip.  

Blow downs on route up East ridge


View after gaining ridge top around 5,770 feet elevation


Once on the ridge top we decided to also scramble over Provincial Peak 5862 on our way to the top of Scarface.  This was once again a very easy rock scramble that offered some of the best views of the entire trip.  

Descending Peak 5862 en route to Scarface


From the peak 5862 we worked our way down and then up Scarface.  For the final push we stayed climbers right using the cliffs as a handrail to guide us to the top.  To avoid unneeded elevation gain you could head more climbers left directly towards the top of Scarface but we were lured by the temptation of more great views off to the right.   

At the top of Scarface we took a quick lunch while basking in the views of Mt. Rainier.  We would have stayed longer at the top but the bugs found us and were urging us to get moving.  For our descent we decided to head down the south ridge and into Grand Park.  The initial  southern ridge run starts off very nice with a walk down a beautiful meadow.  In this meadow you will find a elk super highway that runs nearly the entire length down to the saddle.  On the descent there is one rock section that you have to descend that could possibly be avoided by going climbers left and down slightly sooner but it is easily negotiated. 

From the Saddle we attempted to follow game trails into Grand Park but still ended up doing a little brush bashing towards the end to get us where we wanted to exit at.  Our decision to descend into Grand Park was rewarded with great views and lots of flowers.  The views were so nice that upon acquiring the trail we decided to head deeper into the park in search of more.  Once on the trail we started running into crowds of people.  At our turn around point we took a short break before once again being forced to retreat by the awaiting mosquitoes.  Our return down the trail back to the our vehicles was uneventful.  Upon arriving at our cars we found the forest road full of parked cars as far as we could see in each direction.  

Entering Grand Park heading for the trail


Total time on trail was six hours and forty two minutes.

Distance: 8.71 miles

Elevation gain: 2,382 feet