For the best view of Mt. Rainier’s Winthrop Glacier, head to the Third Burroughs Mountain from the Sunrise Parking Lot. For extra adventure, add the Sourdough Ridge and the Sunrise Rim Trail to make a beautiful, challenging 10.5-mile loop.
Run up to Sourdough Ridge on a broad dirt trail. Plan on weaving around traffic as the trail is one of the most popular paths in Mt. Rainier National Park. To add distance, take a right at the first junction before Sourdough Ridge Trail. Then, add more distance by turning right on the trail for an out and back to Dedge Peak. Otherwise, follow the sign to Frozen Lake.
Frozen Lake is relatively small but provides the drinking water for Sunrise Lodge. Continue straight at the intersection of Mt. Fremont Lookout and Wonderland Trail onto Burroughs Mountain Trail. The climb up to the First Burroughs Mountain runs through barren land with northern views of Berkeley Park, the Enchantments, and the North Cascades. After the snow melts here in late spring, fight off the mosquitoes for a panorama view of alpine wildflowers.
The First Burroughs Mountain is 7000 feet in elevation. Continue past the trail intersection to Second Burroughs for a formidable 400 feet climb in the next half mile. From the Second Burroughs peak, stop and take in the sights of Little Tahoma, Emmons Glacier, and the Winthrop Glacier.
There’s no reason to stop at the Second Burroughs. Start the half-mile descent down the trail. Continue past the Glacier Basin Trail and prepare for a demanding ascent to the Third Burrough. The mile-long climb is over 800 feet to the 7800′ summit of the Third Burrough. At the top is what many hikers say is the closest you can get to a glacier without climbing on one. Check out the Winthrop Glacier’s 3.5-mile body of ice to where it feeds the West Fork of the White River. Peak over to the Steamboat Prow and Emmons Glacier and the Glacier Basin below. Look north for vast sights of the park, like Fremont Lookout, Grand Parks, and Skyscraper Mountain. This might be the best accessible vista in Sunrise on a clear day.
When done soaking in the views, head back to the Second Burrough, passing the Glacier Basin trail. The Burroughs Mountain Trail intersection is between the First and Second Burrough. Turn right to loop back to Sunrise. The trail descends 1200′ over the next two miles on a ridge overlooking Glacier Basin, Emmons Glacier, and the main fork of the White River. Look for a small turquoise lake in the basin.
The trail intersects the Wonderland Trail at the end of the downhill. Turn right on Wonderland around Shadow Lake to the Sunrise Rim Trail. Follow the Sunrise Rim Trail for the last half-mile back to the parking lot.