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

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Crystal Lakes Trail

Trail route from Highway 410 to Crystal Lakes/ NW.
A map of the Crystal Lakes Trail from Mather Memorial Highway. Use of a topographic map of the area is recommended.
 

Trail Description:

Distance, round-trip:

6 miles

Elevation gain:

2300 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

3 hours

Wilderness camps:

Lower Crystal Lake
Upper Crystal Lake


The trailhead is located on SR 410 approximately 4 miles north of Cayuse Pass toward the north park boundary. It is on the east side of the road near Crystal Creek.

The first 1.5 miles of trail climbs through the forest on a series of switchbacks which provide a good look at Mount Rainier until the view is eclipsed by Crystal Peak. The next mile leads to forested Lower Crystal Lake, the smaller of the two lakes. The lovely open basin containing Upper Crystal Lake lies .5 mile beyond the lower lake.


Along the Trail:


By late July and early August the meadows explode with a wide variety of colorful subalpine wildflowers. Watch for elk and mountain goats grazing on the surrounding slopes and ridges anytime throughout the summer and early fall. A side trip to Crystal Peak (five miles round-trip) is well worth the effort. On a clear day five volcanoes can be seen from this 6615 ft. former fire lookout site. Start early in the day if you plan on hiking to the peak as the trail traverses a shadeless south-facing slope which can be very hot and dry during summer.


Backpacking:


There are wilderness camps both at Lower and Upper Crystal Lakes. Be sure to camp in designated sites only. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from Wilderness Information Centers, Ranger Stations, Visitor Centers and on our web site. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

Did You Know?

Artist rendering of the Osceola Mudflow releasing from Mount Rainier.

About 5,600 years ago the summit and northeast face of Mount Rainier fell away in a massive landslide accompanied by volcanic explosions. The Osceola Mudflow, a towering wall of mud and rock, thundered down the White River Valley where it deposited 600' of debris eventually reaching the Puget Sound.