Yellowstone Cliffs and Windy Gap Trail

Carbonado, Washington 98323

Yellowstone Cliffs and Windy Gap Trail

Yellowstone Cliffs and Windy Gap Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Windy Gap may be the most underrated trail destination in Mount Rainier National Park. Part of the reason for that is the fact that Seattle Park and Spray Park, found just to the southwest, offer equally lovely scenery with less of a workout. It could be because from Windy Gap itself, Mount Rainier can’t be seen.

Or it could be that the brutal climb to the gap scares most hikers off. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that the broad meadowlands of Windy Gap and the long, stark face of Yellowstone Cliffs offer stunningly beautiful scenery with a high probability of solitude."

Yellowstone Cliffs and Windy Gap Trail Reviews

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Well this adventure started out to see as much of the Northern Loop trail as I could see. After checking with the park I found that because of low snow levels that no one had been that way. They ask me to give them a report upon my return. I hit the trail at about 7:00 am on the 5th of July. I made good time to the Carbon River lower crossing. The trail is realitively easy with a slight up hill grade, wide and easy to follow. I crossed on the log bridge and made my way up the other side. Upon crossing the Carbon the trail takes on a very different quality. Though it is easy followed, it takes on a serious amount of climb. A series of switchbacks set you to work to get to your destination. Lunch time found me about mid way up the ridge. By about 1:30 or so I was at 4620 feet and at the snow line. The snow is hardpacked and firm, about 2 feet deep. I continued to make my way up to about 5800 feet. At that altitude the snow is about 8 or more feet deep. I had been navigating with a GPS, compass and map since the trail was not available. The last sign of human was at 4400 feet. I was about half mile from the Yellowstone cliff area when I side stepped to miss a melt out tunnel in a lower area of the route I was following (area under the snow melted out) and fell through another. Causing my snowshoe to turn in...and my body to fall laterally. I turned my knee. After assessing the situation and the swelling in my knee...I elected to come down and abort my adventure to another day. Though painful and tough...was much better than the situation I was in the following morning. However, the trail was great and the solitude was incredible. This is a definate wilderness area to be enjoyed...and yes...I will do it again, once I heal.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
3,500 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
2,200 feet
Trailhead Elevation
5,800 feet
Top Elevation
Carbon River Ranger Station
Local Contacts
Green Trails Mount Rainier West, No. 269
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018