Crystal Peak, Crystal Lakes Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Crystal Peak - 7.6 miles
Crystal Lakes Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.6 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,570' - 6,595' (6,595' on summit)|
|Elevation Change:||+3,025' net elevation gain (+3,137' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Crystal Peak - 7.6 Miles Round-Trip
Crystal Peak (6,595') is located 3.8 miles from Crystal Lakes Trailhead on Highway 410 in Mount Rainier National Park. The peak caps a high ridge along the NE corner of the Park with panoramic views across the Rainier massif and White River Valley. On clear days you can see Mount Adams, Mount St Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Baker. Crystal Peak was used as a fire lookout before decommissioning in the 1970s.
This variously steep but well-constructed route splits off the Crystal Lakes Trail and winds through dense forest and high open slopes to the summit.
Visitors will enjoy prolific flowers and good wildlife viewing in an airy subalpine environment. The trail is fully exposed beyond 2.1 miles - sun protection is highly recommended:
The trail rises steadily through a mixed forest to the Crystal Peak Trail split (1.2 miles : 4,650'). A few large trees stand out among tightly packed younger ones on this nondescript climb.
The Crystal Peak Trail veers south and levels to a bridge over Crystal Creek (1.35 miles), past which the forest breaks across a rock slide with views down the White River Valley. It re-enters thick timber and presses steeply into a diminutive subalpine forest (2.05 miles : 5,090').
Here grades moderate across steep, thinly treed slopes with rangy views across the east side of Rainier. The White River can easily be traced to its source at Emmons Glacier on this section. The trail continues south until reaching a major switchback that turns you back north, the first of several sweeping legs up the mountainside (2.9 miles : 5,780').
It rises steadily across open slopes to an outcrop just below the summit, where a short rugged push twists up to Crystal Peak (3.8 miles : 6,595'). Upper Crystal Lake sits just below the summit, and you'll have a good look at the route between the lake and Sourdough Gap.
- N46 55.350 W121 32.033 — 0.0 miles : Crystal Lakes Trailhead
- N46 55.224 W121 31.647 — .6 miles : Steady climb through dark timber to view
- N46 55.149 W121 31.315 — 1.2 miles : Crystal Lakes - Crystal Peak Trail split
- N46 55.012 W121 31.306 — 1.35 miles : Cross bridge over Crystal Creek
- N46 54.954 W121 31.536 — 1.55 miles : Steep, steady climb
- N46 54.593 W121 31.693 — 2.05 miles : Emerge from timber on open slope
- N46 54.184 W121 31.599 — 2.5 miles : Grade moderates across subalpine slope
- N46 53.883 W121 31.463 — 2.9 miles : Major switchback turns back north
- N46 54.265 W121 31.285 — 3.4 miles : Moderately steep climb across high open slopes
- N46 54.395 W121 31.201 — 3.75 miles : Begin final, rugged push to summit
- N46 54.379 W121 31.144 — 3.8 miles : Crystal Peak (6,595')
- Upper Crystal Lake is a fairly moderate 3.2 mile roundtrip extension from the Crystal Peak Trail split.
- Crystal Peak is located in the Rainier Rainshadow, a micro-climate east of the massif which sees less precipitation than areas on and west of the mountain. The young, packed forest at the beginning of the trail and skeletal trunks on higher slopes are the result of fires that struck as recently as the early 1900s.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Wilderness Permits are required year-round for overnight camping in the backcountry. Wilderness Camping Permits are free (*see notes for climbers below).
- Permits and current trail conditions are available at all wilderness information centers, visitor centers and ranger stations (360.569.2211).
- Camp only in sites designated on your itinerary. Fires are not permitted anywhere in the backcountry.
- All trail-side camps have primitive toilets, marked sites, poles for hanging food and a nearby water source.
- Cross-Country Zone Camping: there are no maintained trails, campsites or amenities in cross-country zones. Camp at least 1/4 mile away from any road or established trail, and 100' from water sources. Cross-country camping is not permitted for those hiking the complete Wonderland Trail.
- Summer Party Size Limit (May 15th - September 30th): 5 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation. Families are an exception to this rule (parents + children).
- Winter Party Size Limit (October 1 - May 14th): 12 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation.
- Groups (defined as 6 - 12 people) are permitted in 25 designated sites throughout the park, and when camping on snow in Alpine Zones.
- Climbing Permits are required year-round for any day or overnight travel on glaciers or above 10,000', including Little Tahoma. The Climbing Permit also serves as the wilderness camping permit for overnight trips. Wilderness Camping Permits are free while a Climbing Permit requires the purchase of an annual Climbing Pass for each member of the party.
A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Mount Rainier National Park.
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters.
- Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Always contact the Park before setting out for the latest guidelines.
- Fishing for Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Coastal Cutthroat and Chinook (King) Salmon is strictly prohibited in Park waters.
- There is no catch limit in Park lakes.
Streams and Rivers:
- Daily catch: Six pounds of fish plus one additional fish, not to exceed 12 fish.
- Possession: 1 day's limit
- Minimum size: none
- The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only. The use of bait or other lures (except artificial flies) is not permitted.
The following areas are closed to fishing:
- Klickitat Creek above the White River Entrance water supply intake
- Ipsut Creek above the Ipsut Creek Campground water supply intake
- Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake
- Edith Creek basin above the Paradise water supply intake
- Frozen Lake
- Reflection Lakes
- Shadow Lake
- Tipsoo Lake
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 entrance fee to Mount Rainier National Park (good for 7 days). Annual Passes are $50.
- Pets and Bikes are not permitted on hiking trails or climbing routes in Mount Rainier National Park.
- Fires are not permitted in the backcountry in Mount Rainier National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
The Crystal Lakes - Crystal Peak Trailhead is located on Highway 410, 4.0 miles south of the entrance sign to Mount Rainier National Park (approx 36.5 miles south of Enumclaw). The trailhead is located in the Sunrise Area (northeast corner) of the park.
Parking is available in two large pull-outs on either side of the road. The trailhead is marked only by a 'Hiker' symbol that's fairly easy to miss - anticipate this turnoff. The trail begins on the east side of the road.
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304
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