Crystal Lake via Pacific Crest Trail
3 reviews Mount Rainier National Park #185 hike out of 275 in
1 hrs 51 min
This is a easy one way trail to Crystal Lake in Mount Rainier National Park.
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Did part of the PCT by starting at the Chinook Pass Trailhead. The trail was very exposed so it seems to be moderately hard on a hot sunny day. Other than that, most of the trail is well-maintained. The views are phenomenal. Sheep Lake was great but you definitely want to climb over Sourdough Gap to get a view of Mount Adams. Shortly after that, you’ll make your way into Mount Rainier National Park where it spares no time to show herself off above Upper Crystal Lake. I ended my hike there and camped for the night. Overall, this was a great hike.★ ★ ★ ★ ★
You get everything with this hike past Sheep Lake, to Sourdough Gap, and on to Crystal Lake. 2 lakes, meadows of wildflowers, and views of Mt. Rainier are within your grasp as you travel this approximately 8.5 mile out-and-back trail. Most of the 2200 feet of elevation gain you experience occurs while getting to the ridge to get to Sourdough Gap and climbing out of the basin where Crystal Lake resides. Follow the trail around Crystal Lake and find a place to sit and soak your feet or have a very cold swim. Bugs weren’t bad at Sheep Lake (the 1st lake) or Crystal Lake (the 2nd lake) which is a blessing for this time of year. The trail is well-maintained but fairly dusty if it hasn’t rained recently. You may want to wear a mask just to keep the dust out of your lungs. Note that the parking lot fills up fast, the parking lot toilets are still closed due to COVID-19, and dogs aren’t allowed past Sourdough Gap as the trail enters the National Park and pets are not allowed past that point. You can take them on the trail to the boundary but you wouldn’t be able to go all the way to Crystal Lake. Camping sites are available around Sheep Lake without a permit but permits are required at the sites around Crystal Lake. Overall, the magnificent views of Mt. Rainier coupled with the mountain lake fun make this hike a great experience.★ ★ ★ ★ ★