The hike to Crystal Lakes is six miles round trip with a 2,300-foot elevation gain. The first two miles consists of hiking through dense forest along steep switchbacks. Backpackers will find camping sites at the Lower and Upper lakes, with better scenery at Upper Crystal Lake. Backcountry permits should be obtained for camping along this route, even though park entrance is not necessary to reach the trailhead.
The first mile and a half of the trail climbs through dense forest on a series of switchbacks. Along this steep section of trail good views of Mount Rainier are visible until eclipsed by Crystal Peak. In the next mile the trail ascends through the end of an avalanche path. Lower Crystal Lake lies two and a half miles from the trailhead at an elevation of 5,510 feet.
East of Lower Crystal Lake the trail continues to climb, but less steeply. In one half mile the trail reaches the northwestern shore of Upper Crystal Lake, elevation 5,828 feet. There are two campsites on the southern side of the upper lake.
Directions: From Cayuse Pass, Travel north on State Road 410 4 miles toward the north park boundary. The trailhead is on the east side of the road near the mouth of Crystal Creek.
Elevation: 3,500 feet
Ending Elevation: 5,830 feet
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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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