Glacier Basin Trail

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Elevation Gain5,683ft
Trailhead Elevation4,311ft
Elevation Min/Max4311/9502ft
Elevation Start/End4311/4311ft

Glacier Basin Trail

Glacier Basin Trail is a hiking trail in Pierce County, Washington. It is within Mount Rainier National Park. It is 5.8 miles long and begins at 4,311 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 11.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,683 feet. The Mount Rainier National Park Information board is near the trailhead. There are also recyclings and drinking water. The Glacier Basin Camp and Camp Curtis camp sites and the Glacier Basin Trail Information board can be seen along the trail. There are also survey points, a viewpoint, and a food storage along the trail. The trail ends near the Camp Schurman camp site. This trail connects with the following: Emmons Moraine Trail and Sunrise Trail.

Glacier Basin Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park (The Mountaineers Books)
Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer
View more trails from this guide book
"Your time is running out. Without radical changes in global practices, glaciers could disappear entirely in the Lower 48 states, and the ice rivers on Mount Rainier are already in full retreat. Fortunately, we can still see the mighty ice sheets and even get up-close and personal with them. This trail ascends the upper reaches of the White River valley, crawling through scraggly forest and craggy moraines—ridges of rock pushed aside by the moving glaciers. If you have the skill and the time, you can scramble up the bottom section of a climbers trail to reach the ice of Inter Glacier."
Hiking Mount Rainier National Park - 4th Edition (Falcon Guides)
Heidi Radlinski and Mary Skjelset
View more trails from this guide book
"A moderate ascent skirts the Emmons Glacier Moraine to a camp at the foot of the Inter Glacier, the icy path crossed by climbers summiting Mount Rainier from Camp Schurman. Head west along the Glacier Basin Trail. Very near the beginning of the trail, you come to a billboard with information about old copper mines in the alpine area above the moraine, which never produced much in the way of precious metals but left a nicely graded road to hike. The hike begins in shaded forest, continues straight, and turns into switchbacks, which offer peeks at an unnamed waterfall at their east end. After less than 1.0 mile, you reach the junction with the Emmons Moraine Trail."
Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades (The Mountaineers Books)
Joan Burton
View more trails from this guide book
"The meadow at Glacier Basin is a marmot metropolis. Elk graze in the lush grass; goats frequently amble on the ridge above, sometimes by the dozens. But perhaps the most exciting wildlife is the ubiquitous mountain climber, sure to be seen on summer weekends, usually in enormous numbers, on the way to or from the summit of Mount Rainier. There are also the ghosts of the prospectors who began digging here at the turn of the century and now have vanished completely."

Glacier Basin Trail Trip Reports

5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
icon2 Total
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
It is a moderate hike, very picturesque, Waterfalls, Creeks all this at 30 min. into the hike.
Later on you have the opportunity (you will have to go of the main trail) to see the Emmons Glacier and the beginning of the White River. Then retuning to the main trail to Glacier Basin you will be hiking through relaxing alpine fields and some more waterfalls. The last ½ a mile up to the Basin is a little steep but when you get to the end the Glacier Basin will be right in front of you and you be glad you made the trip.
"Life is Good"
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
This hike was Day 2 of my preparation for Mount Rainier and I had to break camp early as I would not be back in time for the 12 PM deadline. Staying at this campground requires a daily re-registration at the payment kiosk. After moving my car to the daily lot, I again set out to blue skies and the sound of the White River rushing by the campground. As you hike along you will see many hopeful mountaineers heading up the trail with massive packs and high spirits. You will also see many of the same as they come back down, weary, in need of showers, but forever touched by the majesty of Rainier's glaciers and high slopes. Having been on the trail the day before, my goal was to reach Glacier Basin and then travel a little further to familiarize myself with the trail leading to the Inter Glacier. My pack was easily 40+ pounds as I left little behind at the car. Today's hike left me a little more tired but it did not take too much longer than Satuday's hike which encouraged me greatly. The trail out of the basin is narrow and at times slippery due to the hard-packed dirt and loose gravel. You are more exposed to the wind but the views of the glaciers are magnificent. Keep an eye out for marmots, the large rodents that skulk around this area. As you move up the trail you'll cross many more streams and have the chance to cross snow fields. Beware of thin snow bridges with rushing water beneath them as they are thin enough to posthole through into freezing-cold water. The foot of the Inter Glacier is around 7000' so the trail is not too steep. A watchful eye will spot teams of climbers moving slowly up the steep slopes, and skiers and climbers descending. Reaching the glacier's foot will take another 30-45 minutes of hiking. A lot of this trail is water logged from the snow melt so wear water-proofed boots and tread carefully. Again, bring a camera and be sure to stop and admire the postcard-perfect views. Ask a friend or another hiker to sanp your picture as you gaze up at Rainier's massive slopes and snow-clad summit.

Glacier Basin Trail Photos

Trail Information

Mount Rainier National Park
Nearby City
Mount Rainier National Park
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
Additional Use
Views, Waterfalls
White River Wilderness Information Center: (360) 569-6670; Sunrise Visitor Center: (360) 663-2425
Local Contacts

Trail Log