Double Peak is the rugged, imposing twin-spired peak on the eastern flanks of Mt. Rainier just seven miles south of Cayuse Pass. There is no way to mince words on this one. This peak is a nasty piece of work. The climb itself is not the problem. The approach is. It is classic Cascades backcountry bushwacking. You really got to want this peak, because you'll be traversing through dense forest over yellow-jacket infested deadfall, through thorny brush, and up steep, slippery forest floor. There are no trails that get you close to this one. Your reward: A peak that is selddom climbed, probably only a few times a year, with an outstanding view of Mt. Rainier.
Basin at Head of Creek
TOPO! Software Image.
From Tacoma, drive SR-410 east past the Crystal Mountain Resort and into Mt. Rainier National Park. Drive over Cayuse Pass and go on SR-123 in the direction of Ohanapecosh. About 6 miles south of Cayuse Pass at 3100 feet pull over to the side of the road and find the trail to Chinook Creek. Drop 300 feet on the trail, and hike the trail south for about a mile. Cross three creeks dropping from the basin below Double Peak. After the third creek (usually a dry creek bed), cross over a log to the south side of the creek. Now starting heading straight up (west) through forest, staying on the south side of the creek. Bushwack through nasty, thorny brush. The creek will be to your right as you climb about 2000 vertical feet through dense forest.
After about two miles you will emerge in a basin with easy access to the creek you have been paralleling. Fill up here with water. It will be the last source of water on this trip. Gain the ridge at the head of the basin by veering left (southwest). Emerge directly under the twin-summited peak and scramble up loose scree on the left side of the Southwest Peak (the higher of the two peaks. You will enter a narrow gulley that will take you to the ridge crest. Once at the top of the gully, traverse right (northeast) on the north side of the ridge under cliffs about 100 yards until an obvious gully takes you back to the summit ridge. A short class 3 traverse back to the southwest with some minor exposure brings you to the summit. Trip stats are misleading due to the fact that almost the entire trip is off-trail. Distance: 11 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 3700 feet. Time to summit: 4-5 hours.
Red Tape and Camping
Summit Photo Rainier from Summit Summit Photo Summit Photo
No red tape to speak of on this climb. While the peak is inside the national park, it is accessed off of the state highway, so no permits or entry fees of any kind are required.
This trip is over very tough terrain, and so camping opportunities are minimal until reaching the basin directly under Double Peak. There is good fee camping with facilities at the Ohanepecosh campground about eight miles south of the trail access on SR-123.
When to Climb
Do not attempt to climb this peak in the late summer or early fall (late August to early October. You will be climbing through some of the most fearsome yellow-jacket country, with countless deadfalls and burrows to make an approach to Double Peak a complete nightmare. It is best to climb this peak in the late Spring after Cayuse pass has opened up (usually by late May) to have some snow covering a lot of the brush you will need to navigate.
The Author just below the Summit Cowlitz Chimneys
For information including road closures and camping restrictions, you can contact Mount Rainier National Park at: Mt. Rainier National Park
Another great site is this excellent Mt. Rainier climbing blog, which gives up-to-date snowpack and road conditions on Mt. Rainier and the all of the roads: Mt. Rainier Climbing Page