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Carbon Glacier

Intermediate
 4.1 (8) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

The best way to experience a glacier firsthand.


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Map Key

17.3

Miles

27.8

KM

Out and Back

3,236' 986 m

High

1,769' 539 m

Low

1,595' 486 m

Up

1,596' 487 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Overview

The trail follows the Carbon River through the forest to the snout of the glacier. Beware of rocks falling from the glacier snout. Do not approach the glacier -- enjoy the view from the constructed trail.

Description

The Carbon River, named for coal deposits found in the area, is located in the parks 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.

The Carbon River Trail now begins at the Carbon River entrance at the northwest border of the park. Bikes are allowed on this portion of the trail so expect to see some folks out riding... Bikes are not allowed on trails past the campground. Given that this trail follows an old roadbed, it's quite easy-going; the grade stays consistent at ~2%.

After reaching Ipsut Creek Campground, the trail maintains a gentle uphill grade as it parallels the Carbon River. At 1.7 miles from the Ipsut Creek Campground, cross the Carbon River on a foot log bridge. Once across, continue upriver to reconnect with the Wonderland Trail at the Carbon River Suspension Bridge. Do not cross the suspension bridge, continue straight to the Carbon Glacier overlook.

Flora & Fauna

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 8 votes

#3008

Overall
  4.1 from 8 votes
5 Star
13%
4 Star
88%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#167

in Washington

#3,008

Overall
20 Views Last Month
2,431 Since Feb 26, 2015
Intermediate

14%
0%
57%
0%
29%
0%

Photos

Carbon River Suspension Bridge – Wonderland Trail to Carbon Camp (from the north) is closed due to a trail washout (July 2017).
Jul 7, 2017 near Buckley, WA
Mount Rainier stands upstream of the Wonderland Trail-Northern Loop intersection.
Jul 7, 2017 near Buckley, WA
carbon trail - 2 miles in from trailhead - deer crossing
May 5, 2019 near Buckley, WA
Suspension bridge in Spray Park Loop
Sep 7, 2018 near Greenwater, WA
The trail sign. After reading the description of photos not to upload, I realized this photo is not needed.  Unfortunately, the cancel button did not let me skip uploading a photo.
Jul 6, 2021 near Buckley, WA
Going up the steep trail
Jun 10, 2016 near Buckley, WA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Minor Issues 41 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 15, 2021
Tom Herr
Unbelievable views of Carbon River's headwaters emerging from the bottom of Carbon Glacier. Got wet on the bridge crossing the river. Loved it! 17.3mi
Sep 4, 2017
Erin Blaine
Jun 9, 2017
Nathan Godfrey
2 people, 1 night stay 4.9mi
Feb 5, 2016
Nate D
Nov 12, 2015
Nate D
Major tree-fall made the route impassable (with my available time) around the 7 mile mark. 14mi
Jun 27, 2014
Scott Meyer