How about a full winter route of Camp muir in 6.5 hours? No skis, no...
Camp Muir & Ingraham Flats
Camp Muir & Ingraham Flats
Yep, we're giving this one five stars, and here's why: the hike takes you to heights (over 10,000 feet) that just aren't possible anywhere else in the Northwest unless you're on the summit of another major Cascade volcano.
Mount Rainier is an absolute treasure a mere two hours away from Seattle. The road up to Paradise is plowed year-round and from this spectacular gateway you'll have access to a true mountain adventure on the biggest peak in the state of Washington.
The trail conditions to Camp Muir will vary tremendously from one year to the next depending on the amount of snowfall and seasonal temperatures, but you'll likely be hiking on at least two miles of snow in an ever-changing exposed environment. Be ready to bring your expertise, ten essentials, proper gear, and excellent physical conditioning.
From the north end of the Paradise Visitor's Center, follow the paved trail and signs towards Pebble Creek and Camp Muir. There are several paths to follow if the snow has melted out, but they'll all go in the right direction as long as you keep your boots pointed up the mountain. If snow still covers the trail, the Park Service will flag the route with small wands.
At 1.5 miles, reach Glacier Vista. Another quarter mile brings you to a steep stone staircase and fork in the trail. Head left up the stairs to Pebble Creek and Camp Muir. You'll reach Pebble Creek at 2.5 miles. It's here that the trail begins a very steep ascent on the Muir Snowfield up to your destination. Although you've traveled over half the distance to Camp Muir, you've barely begun time-wise. It's safe to say that you still have three-quarters of your total time left. Ouch.
Feel the burn and the air getting thinner by the time you pass between the Moon Rocks, a set of crescent-shaped islands in the snow at 9,000 feet. Continue on for the last thousand feet to Camp Muir, which sits in the rocks at the base of the huge flat-topped outcrop known as Gibraltar Rock.
The camp itself is at 10,188 feet, consisting of three main buildings, several utility sheds, toilets, and tent sites in the snow. Feel free to check out the toilets and stone bunkhouse, but stay out of the other areas. Camp Muir straddles the fine line between hiking and mountaineering, so when in doubt, ask a ranger if you're not sure where you can explore.
For this video, we decided to go another mile and thousand feet of elevation up to Ingraham Flats. The route crosses the Cowlitz and Ingraham glaciers and requires technical skills and gear. Do not attempt to do this without the knowledge/accompaniment of an expert climber (such as a guide service). Glacial travel and crevasse rescue skills are required.
One final warning: Mount Rainier has its own weather system. Clouds, heavy winds, and snow are all possible even in the warmest months of the year. Be prepared even if it's a bluebird day.
Permits & Tips
Mount Rainier Entrance Fee required. Bathrooms and water available at Paradise. Pit toilets available at Camp Muir. Bring the ten essentials with you (emphasis on layers, food, and sun protection). For information on climbing beyond Muir, contact the Longmire Wilderness Information Center. More info at the National Park Service site, and at the Mount Rainier Climbing site.
How to get there
From Highway 7, head east on State Route 706 past Ashford to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainer on the southwest corner of the park. The road to Paradise is clearly signed. There is a day parking lot and an overnight lot. Use appropriately.