Glacier Basin and Emmons Moraine are both easy/moderate trails that start near the White River Campground at Mount Ranier National Park. The trail begins at the far end of the White River Campground. Limited parking is available in the ‘climber / picnic’ parking lot as well as along the side of the road. The two trails combined are around 10 miles / 3000′ elevation round trip. This is a relatively easy to follow trail with no real places you can get lost, but here is the rough map at the trail head. I did take a detour off the Emmons Moraine trail to a beautiful aqua colored lake off the trail. You’ll see this lake early on the trail and if you’re down to bushwhack a bit, it’s definitely worth the trek.
The trail starts easy and shaded. It was heavily forested for the first 3/4 mile, I passed by numerous cold alpine streams. The gain is mild and the trail is wide, there’s one or two switchbacks before you reach the first opening in the trees. Looking out you’ll see Goat Island Mountain across and White River below. Depending on the time of the year, the flow of the river could be quite strong still.
A switchback or two later and I reached another opening in the forest, this was the first full view of White River and the glacier as well. It’s slightly obstructed but on a good day you’ll have a clear sight of Emmons as well as Ranier to the right of it.
There’s a log bridge that lets you safely cross the river and this is where access to the Emmons Moraine trail begins. You can makeout the bridge in the above photo, as long as the switchback that takes you onto the ridge.
Head up the ridge and begin following the trail. The trail forks in several places, but generally if you follow the top of the ridge you’re in the right path. From the ridge if you look to the south you’ll see a beautiful aqua colored lake below. I haven’t been able to find out if it has a name but the lake is just stunning. It takes a bit of scramble and bushwacking to get down, but it’s manageable for most people.
The further you walk along the ridge, the better view of the glacier you’ll get. Eventually you’ll be able to see the terminus of Emmons. Most of the ridge is exposed and rocky but generally it wasn’t too hot even under the sun. There wasn’t too many bugs either. Like most of Ranier during the summer, the trail was very dry and dusty!
If you decide to make the trek down to the lake, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of Ranier and Emmons Glacier hovering above the crystalline water in front of you. It was a refreshing spot to take a swim too! Overall this was a very enjoyable hike. It wasn’t difficult but the views were still very spectacular. Don’t forget to bring extra sunscreen and hope you enjoy the rest of the photos.
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