OverviewYes, this is the same Crystal Mountain that most skiers in the Seattle area are familiar with. Fortunately, no ski lift goes to the top of this one nor do you have to approach it from the ski area itself. I'll include a route that takes you to the summit utilizing some of the Pacific Crest Trail as well as easy cross country. It is a great view spot for the area and the view of Mt. Rainier is outstanding. You look right up the White River valley to it. Crystal Mountain is also one of Washington's prominence peaks with 2304 feet of prominence. More informaiton on prominence and why prominence is an interesting concept can be found HERE.
Crystal Mountain is one of the best ski areas in the state of Washington, but rather than be an advertisement for it, you can read more about it HERE. My interest in Crystal Mountain is really based on the fact that it is a prominence peak that has a stellar view of everything in the area.
Why hike this mountain? Why, this view of Mt. Rainier made it worth my while.
Getting ThereFrom Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area, go to Enumclaw and continue on Highway 410 to Chinook Pass, parking in the area on the east side of the pass that has the restrooms. The Pacific Crest Trail can be accessed from that parking lot. It is about 43 miles from Enumclaw to the Chinook Pass parking area. Of course, you could turn off at the road for Crystal Mountain (33 miles from Enumclaw) if you want to access the summit from the ski area.
From Yakima, drive through Naches and follow the signs to Chinook Pass (about 54 miles), stopping at the parking area mentioned earlier.
Red TapeA NW Forest service parking pass is required to park at Chinook Pass and is required if you park at the parking lot that has the vault toilets. There are other places, like across the highway where this pass may not be required.
Since you do enter Mt. Rainier National Park, no dogs or horses are allowed on the trail that is within the park. Permits for backcountry camping within the park are required and will be described further under the camping section.
CampingThere are several campgrounds on both sides of Chinook Pass and as this page is developed I'll provide a detailed listing.
On the Enumclaw side of Chinook Pass is Silver Springs Campground. This is very close to the turnoff to the Crystal Mtn ski area.
Backpackers who stay at Crystal Lakes on the south side of Crystal Mountain, will need to get an overnight permit. More information can be found HERE by scrolling way down the page. That page will also provide you with information about campgrounds found within Mt. Rainier National Park and the one at Ohanepecosh is an outstanding campground as it is contained within an area with old growth forest. Reservations are recommended.
Again, campgrounds provided by the National Forest are to be found on both sides of Chinook Pass with several near the Crystal Mountain exit.
Weather and Chinook Pass informationWeather Link
for Washington State.
Crystal Mountain Weather
Information on Chinook Pass can be found HERE. Chinook Pass is not kept open during the winter and often doesn't open until the snow plowing crews can manage to clear the roads, often as late as June in some years.
Attention: Snowshoe enthusiastsHere is a trip report posted by SP member EastKing that I thought you
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