This trail leads southeastward from Isput Creek Campground at the end of Carbon River Road, crossing the Carbon River to the eastern side of the Carbon Glacier. There are two wilderness camping areas along the five and a half mile (one way) route. Hikers have the choice of walking to the snout of the glacier or a few miles further to Moraine Park on the eastern side of Carbon Glacier.
Leaving the Isput Creek Campground the tread meets the Wonderland trail within a half mile. Turn left at this junction and contour the northern flanks of Mother Mountain for nearly two miles to another trail junction. The trail leading to the left is the beginning of the Northern Loop. It crosses the Carbon River on prepared logs. Following the Wonderland Trail southward from this second junction the tread continues to contour the base of Mother Mountain. Left of the trail is the Carbon River and a small amount of moraine.
One mile from the Northern Loop Trail you'll reach Carbon River Camp. Shortly south of the camp the trail forks. At this fork turn left and cross the river on a metal suspension bridge. The bridge provides elevated views of the river and glacier with Echo Cliffs directly south. The trail leading to the right at this junction leads southwestward to Spray Park. By the time the tread has reached this third trail junction it has gained 800 feet.
On the eastern side of the Carbon River turn right walking southward. In the first quarter mile the trail ascends slowly. As it reaches the snout of the glacier, to the right, the tread gets steeper. In the next quarter mile to Dick Creek Camp the trail gains 800 feet.
Moraine Park lies one mile past Dick Creek Camp. The trail gains 960 feet within that mile. During this portion of the route the Carbon Glacier lies to the west of the track with Northern Crags then Moraine Park to the east. The Mystic Lake area lies two miles south of Moraine Park.
Along the Trail: This hike offers a close-up view of the lowest glacier in elevation in the contiguous 48 states and the source of the Carbon River. Do not approach the glacier as rock and ice fall are common! In midsummer, Moraine Park presents a colorful array of wildflowers and outstanding views of Mount Rainier.
Trailhead Location: The trailhead is located at the road end at Ipsut Creek Campground, five miles inside the northwest entrance to the park at Carbon River.
Backpacking: Three camps are located along this section of trail at distances of 2.9 miles (Carbon River), 4 miles (Dick Creek), and 7.8 miles (Mystic Lake) from the trailhead. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from Wilderness Information Centers, Ranger Stations, and Visitor Centers. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.
Directions: From Carbon River Entrance, Drive to the Carbon River Entrance and continue to the end of the road at Ipsut Creek Campground, elevation 2300 feet. Find the Wonderland Trail at the upper boundary of the campground.
Elevation: 2,300 feet
Ending Elevation: 2,300 feet
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