Years ago, in 2003, (has it been that long??) when we had first moved to this area, Ford and I checked out The Glacier Basin Trail at Mt. Rainier NP early in the season. We had been turned back by snow maybe a mile short. Mostly due to me postholing so bad I was lucky I didn’t snap my leg. So instead we backtracked and went down to the junction for the Emmons Moraine Trail, crossed the Inter River and went exploring.
Ford and I back in 2003 – he was 5 at the time:
It was good we did it back then – we never got back…other trails called to us. Then in 2006 both trails disappeared after the flooding. A “trail” was picked through to Glacier Basin, through the river bed, so that climbers could get access. The WTA (Washington State Trails) stepped in to help the realization of a new trail that would be permanent. Read this link to see what was going on last summer in 2009. The first third or so is done now and is an absolute dream to hike on.
The trail begins as the old one did, the parking being at the picnic area/climbers parking lot near the end of the White River Campground Rd. You have to road walk a tiny bit and then jig through a path in the woods where you come across the trailhead sign. The new trail pulls up above the river, getting out of the flood path. It is so smooth and evenly graded that you can walk without looking down. No twigs, roots or rocks! Well built bridges cross the streamlets pouring down.
Kirk and Walker before we got on the trail:
Ford and Kirk:
Walker and I in the woods:
Ford hanging out, he was carrying the gear for both him, Walker and I…nice to have the help!
After a lovely mile or so in the woods you start getting views of the mountain:
About where the trail used to hook off to the left to Emmons Moraine is this open area:
The good trail ends here, where the trail clips down the Inter Fork River. It is flagged and you skim the side on the rocks. There is though a whole new section of trail being built here, it isn’t open yet and we passed a worker. You can see right before the water where the new trail will switchback to go up and around this area.
We followed the flagging (yellow and pink ribbon) and kept going. But realized that while I could go uphill coming back downhill with the baby strapped on to me was not so easy. The trail here is a rough boot path, zagging through the woods and boulder fields. So we didn’t make it. Oh well! Going to where it clips the side of the Inter is a lovely turn around.
When the work is finally done this trail will be as nice or nicer than Summerland. Even then, it offers views and more without the crowds that swarm Summerland, just down the road.
We headed back and had a picnic in the trees above the White River, along the Wonderland Trail. A last look at Rainier from the river bed: