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Crystal Lakes Trail to Sourdough Gap

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Mount Rainier National Park

Crystal Lakes Trail to Sourdough Gap is a 7.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Paradise Inn, Washington that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from July until October.

Distance: 7.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,913 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

From Seattle, east on I-90, south on I-405 and then south on Highway 169 to Enumclaw. In Enumclaw, south on Highway 410, 4.6 miles past junction with Crystal Mountain Boulevard find a small (easy to miss) trailhead on left.

hiking
1 day ago

Worth every ounce of pain. Stunning views. Got there about 7.30am and didn’t have much traffic on the way up.

hiking
2 days ago

Started my hike at 7am, saw no one my whole way up to Upper Crystal Lake. Fog lifted enough to get some pictures, enjoyed the blooming wildflowers and i had lunch at the lake after i made it just before 10. Not long after fog rolled in and brought an icy wind with it so i put on another layer and headed down. Didnt see anyone until lower crystal then saw about 2 dozen people on the way to the car. 3 cars including me when i arrived and 20ish when i left. Get here early to avoid the crowds.

hiking
2 days ago

This is such a beautiful spot. Worth every bit of elevation gain! We were there last week and there was too much snow still covering the trail to make it all the way to Sourdough Gap without gear.

hiking
2 days ago

Absolutely loved this trail. Beautiful views. Definitely some work with toddlers on our backs but totally worth it. Not too much traffic as we arrived fairly early in the morning but by midday we noticed a lot more people going up on our way down

hiking
rocky
snow
2 days ago

Multiple gorgeous views! One of my favorite hikes so far in the PNW.

hiking
muddy
snow
4 days ago

hiking
6 days ago

We took our two boys, 10 & 13, on this hike and it was a challenging climb. We camped at Lower Crystal Lake and had dinner at Upper Crystal Lake. It was gorgeous. Be sure to go on a clear day for the best views.

hiking
muddy
snow
7 days ago

Loved this hike today! Incline all the way up. Awesome bridge crossing as soon as you start the trail. I knew it was going to be a good hike as soon as I saw that! Crystal Lake (lower) is a quick jaunt off the main trail and it’s pretty but doesn’t compare to Crystal Lake (upper). It’s so beautiful! Definitely take the extra time and elevation to go to Sourdough Gap. You’ll be high enough to see Mt Rainier & the lake (as long as there’s no cloud cover). There is snow to cross to get to Sourdough Gap so be careful. I made it through the first 2 sets of snow patches and decided to turn back at the 3rd. It was quite steep and no spikes and poles meant I wasn’t too keen on trying it. Missed the very top view from the Gap but I sat by the rushing creek above the lake, had a snack and was rewarded with views of Rainier anyway! Most people seem to stop at the lake so not as many people continued on. You should, it’s gorgeous!

Did this hike on Saturday, June 27. I have been browsing posts on an online hikers and climbers group and few members who have done this hike raved about it. So we decided to check this trail out today. The hike wasn't difficult. First 2 miles was a steady incline through a shaded forest and after that the hike gradually changed into meadows and clusters of fir trees. The trail looked very well maintained and it was clearly marked.  As the name suggests, crystal lake was crystal clear with a mix of green and blue color. It's really pretty. We took our break at the lake. There were quite a few people, but there seemed to be enough space around the lake. Shortly after, we continued our hike to Sourdough gap. This is the part where the hike becomes more technical. The trail was covered in snow. We hiked as far as the north part of the Pacific Crest Trail. I attempted to hike across the snow section of the PCT with my poles and my yaktrax. That was foolish as I slipped and glissaded about 100 feet down the hill. I managed to slow down and made it back to the trail slowly **(shoutout to a couple of hikers who offered me help that day, Thank you!) There were also low cloud covers blocking the view that day. Microspikes and poles are highly recommended if you plan to hike to Sourdough Gap, or maybe wait for a few more weeks until the snow is completely melted.

hiking
11 days ago

Hiked up to the upper lake. It was a rather hot day so hydrating oneself was important. Hike is quick but definitely not easy, it’s a steady climb all the way to the upper lake. No snow anywhere till the upper lake. Absolutely gorgeous day to do this and I enjoyed the fact that the trail was a lot less crowded than I expected.

hiking
bugs
snow
12 days ago

Got to the TH at 630am. Didn’t see another soul all the way to the upper lake! The trail has a pretty consistent gain until you reach the subalpine area. Then it fluctuates a little all the way to the upper lake. Starting in the subalpine area is also where there isn’t as much shade, which continues all the way to the upper lake and on to Sourdough Gap. Bring sun protection! There are a couple of snow patches as you approach the upper lake, but not a big deal at all. There’s no snow around the upper lake, but some quite watery areas if you continue on towards Sourdough Gap. The steep push up to Sourdough Gap still has snow. I put on microspikes and started up, but decided that the state of the snow and the steep grade made it unsafe. So I turned back. Enjoyed a wonderful peaceful break with a lovely peek a boo view of Rainier all to myself. Eventually, a couple other hikers came my way, heading towards Sourdough Gap. The bugs weren’t awful, but definitely out and about. The trail was busier on the way down and the parking appeared full upon my return.

hiking
snow
14 days ago

6/20/20 This trail is a great workout! I’m super out of shape these days (thanks so much quarantine ) but it was well worth the view at the end even though it was a relentless incline the entire way! We went in mid-June so the majority of the snow was melted off of the trail and we didn’t see any really until we were about a half mile from the upper lake. I was happy I brought layers in my backpack as it’s quite chilly at the top after working up a sweat. I enjoyed how well-kept the trail was and how few people we saw, on a Saturday no less. It took us about 3.5 hours total and that is including lunch at the lake enjoying the views. I definitely want to go again when the weather is warmer and the snow turns to bloomed flowers.

hiking
snow
17 days ago

hiking
muddy
snow
20 days ago

06/14/2020 i arrived at the trail head around 11am on a Sunday and parking was already full. parking available both sides of 140. aggressive incline but worth it! lower lake very few snow while upper lake I needed cleats, hiking poles and gaiters. trail disappeared past upper lake and I had to rely on all trails from there. there was light snowfall around noon despite cloudy forecast. plenty of moving water source as marked on waypoints. stay safe!

27 days ago

Definitely bring good navigation if you hike up to the upper lake. I lost the trail down back to the lower lake in the snow, which was pretty scary. Otherwise, beautiful hike...being surrounded by mountains was spectacular.

hiking
27 days ago

The upper lake is still frozen (although melting), and other as other reviewers suggest, accessing it can be a little challenging. On 06/08, there were plenty of prints in the snow, and we were never in danger of losing the trail, however, proceed with care and be aware that more snow could erase the tracks. Some areas where the snow was packed and slippery or caved in under our feet made the last 1/3 mile to the upper lake slow going. The landscape is especially spectacular between the two lakes with absolutely spectacular views at the upper lake. We didn't hike beyond the upper lake due to the snow, but I look forward to returning later in the year.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

hiking
icy
off trail
snow
1 month ago

Good trail! Very peaceful, especially with the blanket of snow on it. I recommend hiking boots, gaitors, and layers. The snowpack gets pretty heavy past the first lake, so bring good navigation.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Love this hike.. however, about 2.5 miles into trail theres still a good chunk of snow for the rest of the way up.. the lake is starting to melt but is still frozen.. still worth the hike.. bring hiking sticks and good shoes.. spotted some cougar paw prints so keep a 360 of ur surroundings.. be careful and have fun!!

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Snow begins just after the fork and continues all the way to the lakes. Be prepared for a winding and narrow snow path to get to the lower lake. Boots, poles, and navigation are recommended to get to the upper lake.

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