Mother Mountain Loop

A dayhike to burn the legs. The Mother Mountain Loop, going through some of the lesser used sections of Mount Rainier National Park, packs in around 17 miles and a lot of scenery….we started at Mowich Lake, and jumped onto the Wonderland Trail. The weather was cool and socked in, but better weather to do a long day in versus blue skies and 80* out.

My friend Drew had done it a couple of times and he asked me if I wanted to do it. I went into it wondering if I’d make it or not. First stop was Ipsut Pass and then the relentless drop down to the Carbon River. Better to go downhill, no?

The trail switchbacks tightly as you drop down, passing a lot of gorgeous trees.

We reached the bottom, and turned onto the Carbon River. Looking upriver to the terminus of the Carbon Glacier and the suspension bridge.

We hiked up the Wonderland Trail to the suspension bridge, and turned right onto the trail to Seattle Park. The climb is steep at first, with many steps, as it switches back and forth. Mother Mountain is to your right, across the way. The push into Cataract Valley is over, and subalpine starts.

As you walk towards Seattle Park, the trees get smaller, the wild flowers more intense and little rivlet streams to jump over.

Lower Seattle Park, in subalpine is one of the prettiest places you might ever walk through. It is so intensely quiet, outside of the wind and birds.

Leaving the trees behind as the alpine tundra starts.

Water running under the snow, summer was awhile from showing up.

Small tarns waiting to melt.

Drew in front, Marty in the middle. As we started the snow crossings in Seattle Park. In whiteouts you need to be very careful if you don’t know the way. Drew had hiked it many times and we had just enough visibility.

At the top of the crossing between Seattle and Spray Parks, I was feeling pretty darn good. It was as cold as you might think, but walking made it bearable.

Drew was telling me to get moving, while laughing.

The descent into Spray Park goes fast, and goes to subalpine quickly.

The lilies were just opening as we dropped elevation swiftly.

Drew was slightly bummed it was socked in, as he wanted to show me all the small lakes hidden in Spray Park.

The final bit of subalpine, and then we dropped into forest, and finished the last few miles. We took the side trail to Spray Falls, and then past Eagle’s Roost. The final bit was uphill to Mowich Lake and honestly might have been so tiring, that last mile or so. But yeah, high fives and we finished it as the sun set.

NOTE: The Wonderland Trail washed out in 2006 in the section between the suspension bridge and towards Ipsut. The trail was rerouted to the other side of the Carbon River, using wood log bridges. It follows the Northern Loop Trail to the suspension bridge, and crosses there.


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