Carbon Glacier Trail

MODERATE 13 reviews

Carbon Glacier Trail is a 18.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Buckley, WA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and mountain biking and is accessible from May until November.

18.9 miles 2576 feet Out & Back

camping

hiking

mountain biking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

washed out

From Tacoma, east on Highway 410 to Buckley. Turn south on Highway 165 and drive 14 miles to Carbon River Road. Turn left and drive 8 miles to Carbon River Entrance Station. Continue 5 miles to Ipsut Creek Campground at roads end.

4 months ago

Great hike today. We just hiked to green Lake trail head and made our way to the lake. Stopped by both waterfall sites and it was breathtaking. Trail is not difficult but not a beginner trail. Will definitely hike this again.

backpacking
4 months ago

Great three day excursion. 5 mile gentle sloping wide trail to Ipsut Creek campground (very clean and comfortable with plenty of available campsites for a summer weekday, with spotless outhouses and convenient bear-proof boxes, however a few sites unavailable due to fallen trees). Next day hiked a bit more rugged trail to glacier and back. (3.5 miles each way). Had to figure out alternate way around washed out trail which involved crossing rocky riverbed following vague trail markers. Once back on the path everything was well marked. Landslide close to glacier viewing area made for a bit of a risky crossing and part of trail was doubling as a shallow creek at times, but the Glacier itself was spectacular with great views of a shiny white Mt. Rainier in the background. One more night at Ipsut Creek campground was followed by a gentle 5 mile return to the parking lot. This portion can be done with a bike as well, but we chose to hoof it. Overall great experience.

6 months ago

A good day hike that keeps mostly flat the whole time.

1 year ago

Great trail me and my girlfriend completed it in about 8 hrs with stops for Breakfast, Lunch and pictures. It was a hot day but with the water breezes made it bearable.

hiking
1 year ago

I decided to walk the entire thing instead of bike to Ipsut Campground. Can't say it was the smartest thing ive done in a while but i definitely had fun. We had a really mild winter so it allowed me to get hiking on the early side. I wanted to stop in to Chenuis Falls but the bridge was washed out so i pushed on. I passed Greenwater Lakes Trail which is a great side trail if you have the time. Beautiful little lake sits nestled in the mountains. I hit Ipsut campground and used the bathrooms they had which were pretty good considering and after rounding the corner (far end of Ipsut) I walked right into Ipsut falls. Pretty cool water fall. Its a short distance and worth the look. Grabbed a snack and headed up the hill and stayed left at the split (a right would take you up to Mowich). Hiking for a little while i found where all the washouts happened and "detours" had been placed. It just takes you the riverbed before catching the main trail up a ways on your right side.... Made it to the glacier and had lunch before walking back. It took me all day and wasn't extremely hard but the distance is what'll get ya if your feet aren't up to snuff. I did think it was pretty awesome that when i started the hike, the river rocks were tiny and as i got closer the glacier, the rocks were astronomically bigger. Made for an awesome picture. Happy hiking y'all.

hiking
1 year ago

took my girlfriend to the old washington mining co. mine the other day. was too late to go any farther than that as we were only prepared for an emergency overnight stay. will be going again to conquer the remainder of trails we missed out on.

hiking
3 years ago

I did this trail yesterday. Road my mountain bike in, had fun on some of the bumps (I ride downhill parks mostly). After starting the trail, stopped at ipsut falls for a snack, it's extremely slick back there right now. Continued on. Not sure when the detour went in for the trail, there is one. Just thought I'd mention it since no one else has. You end up crossing the river before the suspension bridge on a fun log bridge. Gradual hike up to the suspension bridge filled with streams, marmots, and chippies. Met quite a few wonderland trail goers yesterday. Got to the glacier hung out watching a marmot watch me. Pretty entertaining. I wouldn't call this trail difficult by any means, it's the distance that will get you. Highly recommend riding a bike in as it made the way out much faster and easier.

hiking
3 years ago

Was a great day for a hike. We arrived at the Carbon River ranger station at about 8:30, picked up a annual pass and drove to the end of the road (old Ranger Station). Was one other vehicle there. We road our bikes up to Ipsut Campground. Road/Trail is in decent shape. Only a couple places where we got off our bikes to walk through some of the areas with the larger rocks.
Took about an hour to get to Ipsut Campground. Locked our bikes up and began our hike to the glacier. Took a couple pics at Ipsut falls and back on the trail. Didn't see any big game, was a little disappointed as I wouldn't have minded seeing a bear. Oh well.
Arrived a the glacier a little after noon. Had some lunch in the sun and began our trip back down. Took a little bit of time to go across the suspension bridge, even though we didn't have to.
Bike ride back was fun (not much pedaling)
Overall it's an easy hike. If you have to walk the road to the campground I could see how that would be pretty boring. There are plenty of bike racks to lock up your bikes too.

hiking
3 years ago

Not sure why this trail is marked difficult. It is a very easy trail. The highlight is the suspension bridge as you cross the river near the glacier.

hiking
4 years ago

I was one of the lucky hikers who was able to drive to the actual trailhead (road is usually washed out and this restricts access), which shortens the mileage considerably. Total mileage was 6.2 round trip. The hike is relatively flat as you walk (or snowshoe, in my case) on an old mining road adjacent to the Carbon River. Carbon Glacier is spectacular!! End the hike by crossing a suspension bridge that will get you that much closer to this gem.

hiking
4 years ago

My husband and I just completed this trail, but we biked the first 4.9 miles along the old road to Ipsut campground, set up camp, and did the final hike to the glacier much less encumbered! The biking in part on the old road isn't too bad. The grade is pretty mild, but constant, and the road is pretty easily ridden on a mountain bike. There are quite a few areas with big rocks--like riding along an old river bed--but not too bad. I'm definitely NOT a regular bicycler, and I only had to get off and push three or four times for 100-500 feet I'd guess. Most of the soft sand that was there a few years ago is now packed down. Around the washouts was pretty squishy mud, but that might dry up if nice weather prevails for the summer!

The Glacier trail as it stands is probably not long for this world. The river is eroding the banks in many areas, and there was even a detour where part of the trail was destroyed. I talked to a trail worker, and she said they would possibly re-route a big portion of the trail in the future--assuming there was a budget for it.

All that said, though, it's all very nice. The first part along the road parallels the river for much of the way, as does the actual trail itself. There are many waterfalls and rock cliffs, plus great views of the mountain to see. It's a bit crowded, but not as bad as some on a weekend.

The outhouse at the Ipsut campground, however, is the absolute most horrendous, foul overwhelmingly disgusting smelling outhouse I've ever encountered. Even opening the door to try to air it out doesn't help AT ALL!! It simply made the woods smell for hundreds of feet around it. Thank God it was breezy!! They use some natural evaporation method that just isn't good enough. The only thing that helps is to put a LOT of the hand sanitizer on, and smell it after you leave to get the other smell out of your nose. I'm really not exaggerating--avoid having to do any lengthy business if you can!

I'd say the first part in on the road is easy (but long!), and the trail part is moderate difficulty

hiking
4 years ago

Gorgeous trail! The first and last 5 miles of this journey are along the now washed out Carbon River road, hence the high mileage and time, but definitely worth the views, especially on a sunny day. Going in mid May there was still snow in the upper reaches of the trail which made going up a tad slower than normal. Bring lots of water and perhaps a change of socks!

hiking
6 years ago

This trail was truly diffucult will want to pack plenty of high protein snacks and want to wear convertible pants, can get cold on this trail