White River, at Mount Rainier

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If you’re not camping, it may be easy to pass up a visit to a campground.  But be sure you don’t miss out on a drive out to White River.  There are hiking opportunities here, and a great view of the mountain — all of which you can enjoy, even without camping.

[tmt_info =””]The White River Campground area is located on the road to Sunrise, on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park. Before the road starts climbing towards Sunrise, watch for a road that takes you to the left. The campground, and river, are about 6 miles from WA-410, and only a mile from Sunrise Park Road.[/tmt_info]

Drive out to the end of the road at White River, and you’ll see some restrooms.  Hike the trail that goes below the restrooms…

… and you’ll end up here, crossing a couple of log-bridges…

… which take you over the rushing waters of the Inter Fork of the White River.  From the middle of those bridges…

… you’ll have a nice view upstream, looking at part of Mount Rainier.  Much of this water comes from the melt-off of Inter Glacier, a small icefield on the northeast face of Steamboat Prow (elev. 9,680 feet/2,950 meters).

Take some time to build a cairn at the edge of the water…

… or admire the wildflowers blooming here.  At this lower elevation (the campground is at 4,232 feet/1,290 meters), I’d suspect that the flowers here begin blooming earlier than at Sunrise.  Fortunately, in late August, I hadn’t missed them.

[tmt_info =””]You can get a look at Inter Glacier by hiking the Glacier Basin Trail, which begins at White River.  The 6 mile (round trip) trail was heavily damaged in the devastating 2006 floods, but has since been repaired — and in many places, completely rebuilt with the help of the Washington Trails Association (which publishes a very helpful trail guidebook).  On the way to Glacier Basin Camp, you can also take a steep side trail that heads up to Second Burroughs Mountain — possibly avoiding the frozen patches that caused me to turn back on the Burroughs Trail.[/tmt_info]

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