• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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  • Nisqually to Paradise delays and Kautz Creek area closure.

    Road construction from the Nisqually Entrance to Longmire. Expect a 30-minute delay, Monday through Friday. Beginning May 29 to mid-July, all services at the Kautz Creek parking and picnic area are closed through the week. Limited parking on Sat & Sun. More »

  • Melting snow bridges and high streamflows create hazards for hikers, skiers, and snowshoers

    Be aware of hidden- and potentially fatal- hazards created by snow bridges and high streamflows on Mount Rainier. More »

Carbon Glacier Trail

Trail route from Carbon River entrance to the Carbon Glacier/ NW.
A map of the Carbon Glacier Trail route from the Carbon River entrance at northwest corner of park. Use of a topographic map of area is recommended.

Trail Description:

Carbon Glacier

Distance, round-trip:

17 miles

Elevation gain:

1640 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

9 hours

Wilderness camps:

Ipsut Creek
Carbon River

This is the best trail to experience a glacier first hand. The trail follows the Carbon River through the forest to the snout of the glacier. Beware of rocks falling from the glacier snout. Do not approach the glacier -- enjoy the view from the constructed trail.

The trail begins now at the Carbon River entrance at the northwest border of the park because flooding altered the roadbed.

After reaching Ipsut Creek Campground, the first three miles of the trail maintains a gentle uphill grade as it parallels the Carbon River. Soon after meeting the trail to Seattle Park, the Wonderland Trail crosses the river on a suspension bridge just below the snout of the Carbon Glacier. A right turn after crossing the bridge leads hikers to the glacier.

Along the

This hike offers a close-up view of the lowest glacier in elevation in the contiguous 48 states and the source of the Carbon River. Do not approach the glacier as rock and ice fall are common!


Two camps are located along this trail, at 5 miles (Ipsut Creek) and 8 miles (Carbon River) from the trailhead at the Carbon River Ranger Station. Backcountry permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

Did You Know?

The mountain's namesake: Rear Admiral Peter Rainier of the British Navy.

In 1792, Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy became the first European to sail into the Puget Sound. On the horizon, he noted a large, snowy mountain, known to local Native Americans as Tahoma, Takhoma, or Tacobet. Vancouver named it for his colleague Rear Admiral Peter Rainier.