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This trail leads 18.5 miles round trip from Westside Road to Klapatche Park Camp. En route are several primitive camping areas.

This trek to Klapatche Park involves hiking along the Westside Road and using various trails. Hikers can leave the road at Round Pass Trailhead or continue along the road to St. Andrews Trailhead. This description details the trail as it climbs from Round Pass Trailhead to Klapatche Park Camp then heads west to St. Andrews Trailhead and completes a short loop by returning on Westside Road. The total mileage for this route is 18.5 miles with 11.6 miles of it along Westside Road. To cut off five and a half miles of road walking retrace your steps through St. Andrews Park to South Puyallup Camp and Trail.

Begin this hike from the parking area on Westside Road immediately south of the closure gate. You'll be hiking along the road for three and a half miles before reaching the Round Pass Trailhead. This segment of Westside Road climbs steadily at a moderate grade. The road is wide and easy to follow.

Before you reach Round Pass you'll pass the Lake George Trailhead on the left side of the road. Within a quarter mile you'll see Round Pass Trail leading to the right. Turn right onto this trail and begin ascending more steeply. Approximately one half mile from Round Pass Trailhead, Round Pass Trail intersects South Puyallup Trail at 3,550 feet. At this trail junction follow South Puyallup Trail to the east. This trail leads one mile through dense, old growth forest to South Puyallup Camp. A short distance west of the camp you'll see some unusual rock formations. These tall, andesitic rock formations are slanted vertically and twisted into geometric designs. The hexagonal columns were formed during the cooling process after hot lava flowed through the valley thousands of years ago.

When you reach South Puyallup Camp you'll find designated sites for primitive camping. The two trails leading north and east from South Puyallup Camp are portions of the Wonderland Trail. To reach Klapatche Park walk north from the camp ascending a steep ridge. The trail follows switchbacks for two miles, gaining 1,600 feet in the process. At the top of the ridge the trail enters meadow-filled St. Andrews Park. A mile from the ridge crest you'll reach the western shore of St. Andrews Lake.

From St. Andrews Lake the trail crosses the outlet stream and turns westward leading toward Aurora Lake. The trail descends 350 feet then crosses the western ridge of Aurora Peak. Nearly one mile from St. Andrews Lake the trail reaches the western shore of Aurora Lake and Klapatche Park Camp.

The camp provides good views of Mt. Rainier to the east and Klapatche Ridge to the west. The area is filled with wildflowers during the mid summer months. In late summer Aurora Lake dries and the nearest water source is three quarters of a mile east at St. Andrews Lake.

From Klapatche Park Camp our route leads westward to St. Andrews Trailhead. The trail makes a short trek southward then turns westward and crosses the outlet stream of Aurora Lake. From this stream crossing the trail follows Klapatche Ridge for one mile descending 720 feet. Leaving the ridge crest Klapatche Park Trail continues to descend, using switchbacks, into the St. Andrews Creek drainage. At the bottom of the switchbacks the trail reaches an elevation of 4,000 feet, approximately 1,500 feet lower than Klapatche Park Camp.

From the bottom of these switchbacks the trail descends slowly along St. Andrews Creek. Within a half mile of the last switchback the trail reaches Westside Road and St. Andrews Trailhead. The Denman Falls Trail lies immediately across the road from this trail exit. The Denman Falls Trail leads in a half mile loop to a scenic waterfall. It takes less than a half hour to complete and is well worth the time.

From the St. Andrews Trailhead your car is eight miles south. This portion of the hike is mostly downhill. The first few miles begin on a slow descend to meet the South Puyallup River. The road crosses the river then ascends out of the valley along a switchback to reach Round Pass. You will pass the South Puyallup Trailhead and Marine Memorial Airplane Crash Monument on the left before reaching Round Pass. The road gains 400 feet en route to Round Pass from the South Puyallup River.

From Round Pass it is three and a half miles to the road closure. This is a moderate descent through the Fish Creek Valley. The route loses 1,000 feet of elevation from Round Pass to the trail end.

Directions: From Nisqually Entrance, Drive one mile east to Westside Road and turn left driving three miles to the road closure. Hike up the closed portion of the road to the trailhead (approximately 8 miles) at St. Andrews Creek.

Elevation: 2,880 feet

Ending Elevation: 2,880 feet

Usage: Heavy

Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous

 
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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington


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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 Wildernet.com all rights reserved.

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