“Beautiful mountain views that are well-worth the hard work.”
— Chris Gossage
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Only experienced runners and climbers should attempt this unmarked route.
Camp Muir is a classic single day destination, attracting thousands each year - and a popular base camp for climbers. Starting on the Skyline
Trail, the nine-mile round-trip meanders innocently through wildflower meadows before climbing 2.2 miles and 2,800 vertical feet up the Muir Snowfield
. Before you, Rainier looms; behind you, the Tatoosh Range displays its toothy peaks. All that scenery extracts more energy than most people expect, as the route gains a thigh-draining 4,600 feet.
Need to Know
Mistakes in navigation while traveling to or from Camp Muir during storms and white-outs have resulted in lost climbers and runners and fatalities. Always beware of steep cliffs to the east of Camp Muir and Anvil Rock and to the east of McClure Rock. These cliffs, obscured by snow and cornices in the winter, have been the sites of mountaineering tragedies. Panorama Point
is a dangerous avalanche area.
Camp Muir and the Muir Snowfield
are nearly surrounded by glaciers: the Nisqually Glacier to the west, the Cowlitz
Glacier to the north and east, and the Paradise Glacier to the south and east. A minor error in navigation may lead you onto these glaciers where there are numerous crevasses and other hazards. Stay on course.
While traversing the Muir Snowfield
, approach rock islands with care because of holes which form around rocks as snow melts. Crevasses occasionally open up on the snowfield in the vicinity of Anvil Rock in late summer and may be hidden by snow.
This will be a climb you'll not forget for many years, and to begin sounds easy. Start at the trailhead near the lodge and make your way on the easy paved Skyline
trail heading for Panorama Point
. Just before you reach that you'll pass Glacier Vista
, a place to get some very nice views to the south. Continue past Panorama Point
after you fuel up on a snack and you'll notice the crowd has dwindled as most runners usually turn back here.
Once you reach McClure Rock, take a look up the hill at the path other runners have taken and use it to keep you on course. The snowfield is wide and open giving awesome views on a clear day. It comes in handy if you have some type of altimeter to gauge your progress, but it is not a requirement. Depending on the conditions you can make this run with regular footwear, but your should consider crampons, ice axe and plenty of food and clothes.
The weather has a way of changing without notice and people have died in June on the Muir Snowfield
. Review the weather reports, respect the environment, be safe, and enjoy.
If you're looking to run to Camp Muir with a guided group, check out the REI Classes & Events page
History & Background
Camp Muir, originally known as Cloud Camp, was named Camp Muir after writer/naturalist John Muir summited the mountain. Muir was a member of the climbing party that made the sixth recorded ascent of the Mount Rainier in 1888. Camp Muir is one of the primary high camps for summit attempts and is a favorite campsite with climbers.