Indian Henrys Hunting Ground Trail to Mirror Lakes is a 12.1 mile out and back trail located near Longmire, WA that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from July until September.
The book, "Hiking Mount Rainier National Park," by Heidi Schneider and Mary Skjelse is a great resource for many hikes in Mount Rainier National Park. Another great resource for this specific site can be found here: http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/indian-henrys-kautz.htm.
This is definitely a challenging trail starting from Longmire. Pyramid Creek to Devils Dream is the hardest trek. The creek crossings and lush meadows made it worthwhile. Also met a handful of very nice fellow hikers along the way.
this trail is great and beautiful but from longmier it is 14.+ miles .
If you're starting from Longmire, the trail is actually 14 miles round trip. You start on the Rampart Ridge trail; trekking through lush green forestry. The trail starts mild but don't be fooled by its gentle facade. Soon after you cross the wooden footpath, the trail begins to incline. There are spots in this trail that are very steep and challenge your resolve to continue.
There are some reprieves, however, so don't count the hike out all together. Just after you reach the Rampart Ridge crossroads (as my husband and I called them), the path levels out for a stretch. You go downhill and cross a river bed where shortly after, the trail climbs again. My husband and I dealt with the strain by reaching mini-destinations. First it was Pyramid Creek camp. Then Devil's Dream Camp. I have to say, once you hit Devil's Dream camp, the mosquitoes are very dense. Bring bug spray and if you have it, wear bug-repelling/blocking clothing. You will need it!
The payoff is absolutely the meadows. Even before you reach the cabin, the forest gives way to endlessly beautiful stretches of wildflower laden fields. Still ponds rest peacefully beneath the cliff-sides towering above; their surfaces mirroring the beauty spanning before you. The smell of the warmed earth and blooming flora is nothing short of intoxicating. I cannot put into words how beautiful Indian Henry's truly is. Yes, the hike is hard. Yes you'll have moments where you want to give up. My husband and I are avid hikers and this challenged us unlike any hike we've been on so far. But I'd do it again and again and again... It is stunning, it is rewarding, and it is the type of hike that leaves your soul in awe of all this earth has to offer.
Stunning hike from Longmire up to Indian Henry's...just be prepared for a long and difficult trek. Patches of steep uphill, followed by knee punishing tree root covered downhills. Watch the weather. Check NOAA (http://www.noaa.gov/mobile/index.php) for Rainier Weather. We noted 50% rain later in the day, and hoped we would be on the positive side but we weren't. After 5 hours up the trail with lunch at the Patrol Cabin, we came back down quickly (3 hours) due to brewing thunder/lightening/rainstorms! We had to take it slow when crossing back across the dry wash or "arroyo" just before Paradise Creek, was now flowing with muddy glacier runoff! Hike in pairs and bring rope in your pack. Also, the actual Hunting Ground is filled with bugs! Wear and bring bug spray.
I'm a active person (walk at least an average of two miles per day), and I consider this a difficult hike. However, hikers with more experience than me will probably find this a moderate hike. There are lots of straight, flat-ish areas, and they break up the monotony of increasing/decreasing elevation quite nicely. There was no scrambling, and the switch backs weren't too rough when compared with other hikes (like those from the Mt. Si, WA hike or Mt. Katahdin, ME hike). The vistas are tremendous. Even though it was a cloudy day when we were there, and we only got to see about half of Rainier, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was still snow in the subalpine zone, and my shoes were wet by the time we reached Mirror Lakes. When we were heading back around 6 p.m., I saw a 4-point buck in the beargrass meadows, perhaps still about 3 miles from the trailhead. Others in my party said that on a previous Kautz Creek hike they encountered a "teenage" black bear near Mount Ararat. Definitely be prepared to see wildlife and to deal with weather changes.