Florence Peak, located in the Carbon River District of Mount Rainier National Park is a great winter destination located in Mount Rainier National Park. The peak itself is rarely summited and mostly visited by diehard peakbaggers and off-trail snowshoers. This peak is recommended for winter travel due to the fact that vegetation in this region is usually quiet thick and during the snow free month backcountry travel can damage some of the growth in the region.
On a clear day Florence Peak provides excellent views of Mount Rainier and much of the western side of Mount Rainier National Park. You can evn get a decent shot of Mount Saint Helens. I personally was not so lucky the first time on this peak but the views here make this peak a worthwhile destination. The summit itself contains very close to a 360 panorama where only some 10 foot trees on the north end of the summit block some views.
The rocky summit really makes this peak interesting. Though it is only Class 2 from the false summit to the true summit the rocks on the summit often develop rime ice and often that along with other ice can make the quick 50 foot scramble to the true summit quite tricky. Other times though this final scramble to the summit is actually not hard at all and actually quite a change of pace from the many other snow covered summits in the area. It should be also be noted that Florence Peak has a false summit that is less that 30 feet lower on the south side. This false summit also has great views as well and you will have to travel over the false summit in order to attain the true summit.
In order to reach the summit of Florence Peak you must take the very well maintained but at least according to park map decommissioned Boundary Trail. This trail hardly looks decommissioned and my guess is that it might open up again soon. Continue up the Boundary Trail all of the way up to the ridge as it switchback up to Alki Crest at about 4600 feet. From head up Alki Crest where there will at first be a 400 foot gain then a small drop down only stay level on Alki Crest until the ridge arrives at the base of Florence Peak. The grade then steepens again as it rises toward the false summit of Florence Peak. You will pass through an open area as the grade steepens. Once on the false summit scramble down the narrow ridge to the saddle between the false and the true summit. One in the saddle scramble over a number of rocks to the true summit of Florence Peak. This section might require crampons because the rocks are usually windblown and there is usually ice on the rocks.
Getting ThereVIA 410 in Buckley:
Take Route 165 South. It will soon intersect with Route 162. Continue on Route 165 south through the towns of Wilkeson and Carbonado. You then go over an older bridge ove the Carbon River. This bridge is beginning to look unsteady and would not be a good place to be during an earthquake. Roughly a half mile over the bridge you will run into an intersection with one road veering left and staying in the valley heading to the Carbon River District and another veering right heading to Mowich Lake. Take the road heading to the Carbon River District. Good roughly 5 miles to the gate of the Carbon River District Gate. There will be parking on your right and restrooms on your left.
Mount Rainier National Park Pass is required at the trailhead. It is $15 for the day and $30 for the year.
Backcountry Permit Required for Camping while in Mount Rainier National Park. For more information please click here
It should be noted that the Boundary Trail does spend some time outside of Mount Rainier National Park and in that general area you do not need a permit to camp there.
External Links Information on the Backcountry Hiking and Camping at Mount Rainier National Park
Great trip report with some great shot of view from this summit on a clear day
Another great trip with pictures from the summit of Florence Peak.