Let's do a day hike up Camp Muir this coming Saturday so long as the weather is nice. Below are the details. Be prepared for a full day and dinner afterwards. Please bring money to compensate your driver. I tend to hike at a slower speed overall.
Roundtrip 10.0 miles
Elevation Gain 4600 ft
Highest Point 10000 ft
The route to Camp Muir gives hearty hikers a small taste of what alpine climbers experience. The trail stretches high up the flank of Rainier, toward the upper mountain where alpine climbers play. This route isn't for everyone since it does entail substantial snow travel and may require good routefinding skills. But on a clear summer day, hikers in excellent physical condition might consider this most strenuous trek into the world of rock and ice.
Pick a path and head north from the parking lot. It doesn't matter which route you take--keep moving upward, and all trails eventually merge. At 1.5 miles, you pass the viewpoint at Glacier Vista, and 0.3 mile beyond that, you come to a trail fork. To the right is the Panorama Point Trail. Go left to continue your steep climb. In about 0.25 mile, the trail moderates a bit as it moves up through the rocky slopes above Panorama Point.
At 2.5 miles, the trail crosses a shallow ford of Pebble Creek and then fades away. From this point forward, the trail is merely a boot track through the snows of the Muir Snowfield. For 2.5 miles, you climb along the face of the snowfield, reaching the rocky spine that houses Camp Muir at 10,000 feet. A couple of rock shelters reside here--one is used as a communal bunkhouse, the other is assigned to the licensed climbing guide service.
Turn around here (if not before), making sure you have plenty of time and energy in reserve for the return trek. Use caution descending the snowfield. Driving Directions:
From Tacoma, drive east on State Route 7 to Elbe, then veer left onto SR 706 to enter the park at the Nisqually Entrance near Ashford. Continue east along the Nisqually Road to the Paradise Lodge parking area. Park in the large parking lot and find the trail near the climbers hut on the north side of the parking lot.