When the high country isn’t melted out, but you really want to spend a night in the woods. The Cowlitz Divide Trail is one of the lesser used trails of Mount Rainier National Park. For one, it is located on the far side of the park, near Ohanapecosh and the Stevens Canyon entrance off of Hwy 123. The trailhead is a quick half mile or so from the entrance, look for it on the right side if heading up. The trail is 4 miles to where it ends at the start of the Cowlitz Divide on the Wonderland Trail, and can be used as an alternative start if you are heading to Indian Bar, rather than Box Creek Canyon.
Being so early in the season our goal was Olallie Creek camp, at 2.6 miles in. Not a long hike at all, perfect for a late start on the trail.
Ford leading the way, up an old tree that acted as a minor bridge.
The trail is in lush forest and is very quiet to walk through.
On this protected side of the park, the trees are often massive.
The last bit of forest through the woods was spectacular. On the way out we were treated to fog enveloping us.
Mostly blueberry bushes existed between the trees, as we took the side path to camp.
Being a Mount Rainier NP back country site it comes with a pit toilet “privy” , water access (Ollalie Creek) and a bear pole. We had beat the backcountry ranger up there for the season, so we poked around in the bushes and found the bear pole parts and assembled it.
The creek goes around a bend, which made for great wading for Ford to cool off in that afternoon.
It’s a great short hike trip where you are more than likely to see no one else. We explored to the junction with the Wonderland Trail, but turned back due to the snow levels up higher. The hike went out quickly. Nearby is the East Side Trail, the Silver Falls Loop and Grove of The Patriarchs for more hikes, as is the car campground just down the road.
NP Pass or America The Beautiful is required to enter the park.