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blueBlack Emerald Ridge

  4.0 ( 1 )

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13.9 mile 22.4 kilometer loop
81% Runnable


Ascent: 3,410' 1,039 m
Descent: -3,410' -1,039 m
High: 5,618' 1,712 m
Low: 2,892' 882 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 43% (23°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Tom Robson

A long approach to a fragile, subalpine environment at the base of a glacier.

Tom Robson

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.


This route progresses in a very steady nature, starting from the graded doubletrack of Westside Road, to the incredibly steep singletrack on South Puyallup Trail. This route is made well-worth the effort as you approach the western slopes of Glacier Island, Tahoma Glacier, and Mount Rainier itself. Glacier Island is a sub-peak of Rainier once fully encircled by both the South Tahoma and Tahoma Glaciers.

Need to Know

The South Puyallup River Camp is located 1.6 miles from the trailhead near the junction with the Wonderland Trail. Camping is not permitted atop Emerald Ridge because of the fragile nature of the area and the lack of suitable spots. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from wilderness information centers, ranger stations, and visitor centers.

Runner Notes

Westside Road is great for running, but the rest of this route is quite steep. Additionally, the Emerald Ridge section is very fragile, and the requirement to stay on the established trail makes for a stair stepper ascent.


Take the Westside Road to the gate at Dry Creek (approximately 3 miles from the start of the road). Due to danger from rock fall, vehicles must park south of the barricade at Dry Creek. Runners and bicyclists should travel through the area with caution and avoid lingering in the rock fall hazard zone. Run up the closed portion of the road to the Puyallup River trailhead (approximately 4.5 miles).

The first 1.6 miles of trail climbs gradually through old growth forest to the South Puyallup Camp on Round Pass. From the camp, South Puyallup becomes very rocky and climbs much more steeply.

Once atop Emerald Ridge, please stay on the constructed trails and rock outcroppings. The delicate subalpine vegetation is damaged by off-trail running and other uses.

Flora & Fauna

About 1.5 miles up the trail look for high columns of andesite. These hexagonal columns were formed during the cooling process after hot lava flowed through the valley thousands of years ago. Atop Emerald Ridge, the vegetation changes from forest to subalpine. Runners may enjoy superb views of the Tahoma Glacier and Mount Rainier.


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