Trip Report    

Rampart Ridge Off Trail Loop

A much more strenuous version of the normal loop, which begins and ends at the Kautz Creek trailhead (motivated by COVID non-carpooling). A great fall loop (lots of blueberries, fall colors, views of Rainier) that ascends the Kautz Creek trail to Indian Henry’s, follows the Wonderland Trail to Rampart Ridge, then descends off-trail back to the cars (total of ~15 miles, ~3500’ gain, only for folks experienced w/map and compass ).

  • Sun, Sep 20, 2020
  • Rampart Ridge Loop
  • Scrambling
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Recent rains eliminated the air quality smoke problems, but cooler temperatures led to lots of dew.  We opted to skip a side jaunt to Mt. Ararat due to steep/slippery dew covered heather on its SW aspect, as well as to provide more time for coping with off trail unexpectedness later in the day.

A great workout on well maintained trails with lots of berry picking, plus infrequent encounters with other parties:DD332AF7-D1D5-4434-99F0-9B9FF5BD06D6.jpeg

Cloudy skies eventually gave way to views of Mt. Rainier at Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground:


then things really warmed up for the final vista late in the day:


The off trail segment (~1.5 miles) from the ~3700’ elevation to the cars (on the SW aspect of Rampart Ridge) looked to be straightforward, and most of it was.  Yet the last 300’ to the road (lateral and vertical) involved a world class rain forest swamp experience (huge fallen logs, devils club, skunk cabbage, nettles, and route finding), with a key log allowing us to travel above the worst of it:


It’s possible that the Twin Firs Trail (the loop trail just east of the Kautz Creek trailhead), would allow the avoidance of this swamp, at the cost of a bit more road walking.  Due to many berry breaks plus the cross country travel our total trip was ~11 hours.  Photos from this trip can be seen here.