• 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 »

Lake James Trail

Trail route from Carbon River entrance to Lake James/ NW.
Map of the trail route to Lake James from Carbon River entrance, northwest corner of park.  Use of a topographic map of area is recommended.
 

Trail Description:

Windy Gap

Lake James

Distance, round-trip:

19 miles

22 miles

Elevation gain:

3450 feet

Hiking time, round-trip:

7 hours

9 hours

Wilderness camps:

Yellowstone Cliffs

Yellowstone Cliffs
Lake James

Lake James was named by The Mountaineers in 1912 as a tribute to Park Ranger Thomas O'Farrell whose son was named James.



The trailhead now begins five miles earlier at the Carbon River entrance station because flooding damaged the roadbed.

Hike from the Carbon River entrance to the Wonderland Trail juncture five miles in, then two miles up a slight grade to the Northern Loop Trail. Cross the Carbon River on a log bridge and turn left at another junction on the far side of the river. The trail soon begins a steep climb up numerous switchbacks through open, dry forest until finally reaching the subalpine meadows at Yellowstone Cliffs. From here the trail climbs for an additional one mile before it enters the beautiful, boulder-strewn meadows of Windy Gap. Beyond the gap, the route descends 1.5 miles to Lake James and the forest below.


Along the Trail:


Mountain goats frequent the Tyee Peak and Crescent Mountain areas near Windy Gap. Binoculars are recommended. Follow the short spur trail known as the Independence Ridge Trail (the junction can be found approximately one mile west of Windy Gap) to a unique natural bridge.


Backpacking:


There are trailside camps at Yellowstone Cliffs, located 10.8 miles from the entrance, and at Lake James Ranger Cabin, 13.5 miles from the entrance. Crosscountry camping opportunities also exist for experienced minimum impact backpackers. 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?

Mount Rainier summit with Mount Adams in the distance.

At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascade Range. From various locations around the park you can see four other Cascade volcanoes: Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak. On a clear day, you can see the tip of Mount Hood, in northern Oregon, from Paradise Meadows.