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Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
11.00 mi (17.70 km)
Warming hut
No
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Due to the historic floods in 2006, the road to the Ipsut Creek Campground is permanently closed. This provides a beautiful snowshoeing trek along the old service road, through old-growth forests, and along the incredible Carbon River.

The snowshoeing begins at the northwest entrance of Mount Rainier National Park about 2 miles past the ranger station. The parking lot is small and consists of only about 10 vehicle spots, so make sure to arrive early. The route will take you just over 5 miles of slow elevation gain to get to the falls. The Carbon River Trail offers extremely lush, temperate rain forest scenery that is similar to that of the Hoh River in the Olympics. At around the 3-mile mark the trail branches off to Green Lake. Keep trekking for another mile and the trail will branch off again for the Chenius Falls. Make sure to read signage along the trail; the Chenius Falls route is frequently washed out due to high waters. Also, look back occasionally for views of Old Baldy, Cayada Mountain, and Bear Mountain. At approximately the 3-mile mark, the Chenius Mountains dominate the view in front of you. Pitch camp at the Ipsut Creek backcountry site or head another 0.2 miles to the beautiful Ipsut Falls. 

From the campground it is possible to access Ipsut Pass and Tolmie Peak via the Wonderland Trail. Another 3.5 miles will take you to the Carbon Glacier, which is the lowest elevation glacier in the contiguous United States. The Carbon Glacier is also the longest and has the most volume of any U.S. glacier outside of Alaska. 

With a minimal elevation gain, the effort-to-reward ratio is heavily in your favor. Just be careful of the occasional icy patches along the snowy trail and soak in the beautiful views.

Recommended Gear

Before you head out on your next Mount Hood adventure, make sure you have the right gear! 

Here's a list of our go-to snowshoeing essentials to get you started:

Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoe

Cushioned, Made in USA, Ultralight, 98.8 oz

Men's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $299.95 • MSR | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Jacket/Shell: Arc'teryx Zeta AR Jacket

Waterproof, Adjustable Drawcord Hem, Pit Zips, GORE-TEX

Men's • $431-475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $475 • Arc'teryx | Amazon | Backcountry

Pack: Mammut Nirvana Pro Pack 

35L, Carry-On Size, Hip Belt, Ice Axe / Pole Loops, Hydration Compatible

Standard Fit • $189.95-199.95 • Mammut | Amazon | Backcountry

Small Fit • $199.95 • Mammut | Amazon

Insulating Layer: Moosejaw Dequindre Down Jacket

Water-resistant, Insulated, Adjustable Drawcord Hem

Men's and Women's • $179

Poles: Black Diamond Traverse Pole 

Aluminum, Adjustable with Lever Lock System, 21 oz.

$79.95 • Black Diamond | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Gloves: The North Face GORE-TEX Gloves

Waterproof, Adjustable, Insulated, GORE-TEX

Men's • $99.95-181.63 • The North Face | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $99.95-100.00 • The North Face | Backcountry

Boots: Vasque Snowblime UltraDry Boot

Waterproof, Cushioned, Insulated

Men's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Women's • $149.99 • Vasque | Amazon | Backcountry

Gaiters: Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiter 

Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Abrasion-resistant

Men's • $41.32-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Women's • $49.95-65 • Outdoor Research | Amazon | Backcountry | REI

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Incredible views. Solitude. Old-growth forest.

Cons

Icy sections on the trail.

Pets allowed

No

Trailhead Elevation

1,700.00 ft (518.16 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,100.00 ft (335.28 m)

Address

Carbon River Rd
Ashford, WA 98304
United States

Features

Big vistas
Historically significant
Old-growth forest
Waterfalls
Cross-country skiing

Typically multi-day

No

Groomed trail

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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