Carbon and Mowich

A dense tangle of moss covered trees and lush vegetation.
The temperate rainforest at Carbon River.

NPS Photo


Carbon River, named for coal deposits found in the area, is located in the park’s northwest corner. This part of Mount Rainier National Park receives consistently high amounts of rainfall so the climate and plant communities found here resemble that of a temperate rainforest.

The Carbon River road was washed out by the 2006 flood and is open to vehicles only to the Carbon River Ranger Station at the park boundary. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic are permitted on the remainder of the road inside the park. Carbon is reached via the Carbon River road, off of State Route 165.

Mowich Lake is set in a glacial basin surrounded by fragile wildflower meadows, and is the largest and deepest lake in Mount Rainier National Park. The road is unpaved after the first three miles and may be rough. It is generally open mid-July to mid-October. Mowich is reached via State Route 165.

The article, Carbon River and Mowich Lake - The Quiet Corner, provides an overview of the history of the area.

Check the road status prior to visiting the Carbon & Mowich area.

You might consider visiting additional areas of the park such as Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, Paradise, and Longmire.



The Ipsut Creek Campground is located 5 miles (8 km) from the Carbon River Entrance. Due to the 2006 flood the road is closed to vehicles; the campground is open to hikers with a wilderness camping permit.

The Mowich Lake Campground and Tolmie Peak Trailhead/Mowich Lake picnic area are located 6 miles (9.5 km) from the Mowich Entrance. Both the Mowich Lake campground and picnic area are open midsummer to early fall.

Water falls over a series of polished rock faces into a pool.
Chenuis Falls is a popular day hike destination along the Carbon River Road trail.

NPS Photo


The Carbon River area includes old-growth forest and inland temperate rain forest. The Carbon Glacier is the lowest elevation glacier in the lower 48 states.

The Mowich area provides a gateway to spectular sub-alpine lakes and meadows. Sub-alpine meadows are very sensitive to disturbance, so please stay on the trails at all times.

Rain Forest Nature Trail (0.3 mi/0.5 km)
Starting across from the Carbon River Entrance Station, this short loop trail takes visitors through a fine example of a temperate rain forest.

Chenuis Falls Trail (7.4 mi/11.9 km roundtrip)
3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the Carbon River Entrance, cross the Carbon River on the footlog and follow the forested trail (0.4 mi/0.6 km) to the falls. Use caution crossing the river. Check to make sure the footlog is not washed out before attempting this hike.

Green Lake Trail (10.8 mi/17.4 km roundtrip)
Trail begins 3.6 mi (5.8 km) east of Carbon River Entrance, along the Carbon River Road. Hike the Green Lake Trail (1.8 mi/2.9 km) through dense forest to a beautiful mountain lake. Take a short side trip for a view of Ranger Falls.

Carbon Glacier Trail (17 mi/27.4 km roundtrip)
From the Ipsut Creek Trailhead, hike along the glacier-fed Carbon River to view the terminus of Carbon Glacier. Stay away from the terminus of the glacier! Rocks fall and bounce off the glacier as the ice melts and could cause serious injuries.

Tolmie Peak Trail (6.5 mi/10.5 km roundtrip)
Beginning from the north side of Mowich Lake, this hike passes the beautiful subalpine Eunice Lake on its way to the Tolmie Peak Lookout.

Enjoy other day hikes in the Carbon & Mowich area.


Biking at Carbon River

While the 2006 flood closed the Carbon River Road to motor vehicle traffic, the approximately 5 mile (8 km) road is still accessible to mountain bikers, up to the Ipsut Creek Campground and trailheads. Biking is not allowed on any trails.

More information on bicycling at Mount Rainier.

Last updated: September 17, 2018

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