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Mirror Lakes

 
Mirror Lakes

Page Type: Route

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 46.80700°N / 121.811°W

Object Title: Mirror Lakes

Route Type: Scramble

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Class 2-3

Route Quality: 
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Page By: mandrake

Created/Edited: Jun 1, 2005 / Jul 25, 2011

Object ID: 165280

Hits: 1688 

Page Score: 73.06%  - 3 Votes 

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Approach

Tahoma Creek:
If the Westside Road is open, follow it ~3.5mi to its end at the parking area at Dry Creek. Follow the road on foot from here, crossing the hiker bridge where the road is washed out. Continue along the road ~1.2mi to approximately this point, where the unmarked Tahoma Creek trail leaves the road (~3200'). The picnic area marked on the map is long gone (likely washed away by the same flood that took out the Westside Rd) - but keep an eye out on the right side of the road and the trail is obvious when you see it. There was a drum for bluebag disposal here in summer 2011. About 30ft in from the road you'll find a metal "Trail Not Maintained" sign which indicates you're on the right track.

The Tahoma Creek trail is apparently not maintained to "Mt. Rainier's standards" but as of July 2011 is still quite doable. Several sections were washed out, but it was fairly obvious where they'd been re-routed. Follow the Tahoma Creek trail upwards ~2.2mi to reach a signed junction with the Wonderland Trail at ~4200'. Cross the suspension bridge south over the Tahoma Creek and switchback upwards a final 1.4mi to reach Indian Henry's Hunting Ground and the junction for the Mirror Lakes (~5300'). Distance one-way to the junction: 4.8mi, 2100' gain.

Kautz Creek:
The Kautz Creek trailhead (~2400') is located just off the main road, approximately 3mi east from the Nisqually entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. About 1mi in from the trailhead is a bridge across the Kautz Creek and then the trail begins an ascent, climbing well-graded switchbacks, eventually reaching a saddle on the eastern shoulder of Mt. Ararat and then descending to a junction with the Wonderland Trail at Indian Henry's Hunting Ground (near the ranger cabin) at ~5.7mi from the trailhead. Turn left on the Wonderland Trail for 0.3mi before reaching the junction with the Mirror Lakes trail (~5300'). Distance one-way to the junction: 6mi, 2900' gain.

Route Description

From the junction with the Wonderland Trail (~5300'), follow the spur trail northward ~0.7mi to the Mirror Lakes - a set of small beautiful alpine tarns back among the trees and eventually to a metal sign helpfully informing you that you have reached the "End of Maintained Trail" (~5400'). A user trail continues past the sign and up over a ridge below Copper Mountain and then down into the meadows at the foot of Pyramid Peak. Continue following the user trail ~1mi as it winds its way up onto Pyramid's southeast ridge and then steadily makes its way upwards to the summit. The user trail gives out close to the top as the last 200' or so are fairly rocky and a bit steep -- class 2 with possibly the odd class 3 scramble move. Watch your step as there's a bit of loose rock up here. A last push reaches the wide grassy summit (6937') with views in all directions.

If the trail is buried in snow, head for the obvious saddle-like notch on Pyramid's southeast ridge and follow the ridge to the summit.

Tahoma Creek: 6.5mi one-way, total gain 3700'
Kautz Creek: 7.7mi one-way, total gain 4500'

Pyramid Peak
Pyramid in snow conditions - July 21, 2011

Essential Gear

A helmet might not be a bad idea as there's some minor rockfall potential on the lower slopes of Pyramid.

In the early season when snow covers the route, bring an ice axe and crampons. There are some steep sections and a rope might not be a bad idea for less experienced team members.

Images

Kautz Creek approach just...Pyramid Peak (top-center)...