Mt. Rainier National Park – Sunrise and White River
The Sunrise Visitor Center and Day Lodge are located in the Northeast section of Mt. Ranier National Park, a two-hour drive from Tacoma and a four-hour drive from Portland. It’s accessed from Sunrise Road via HWY 410, opens in late June or early July, and closes in late September to early October. Sunrise Lodge is a great place for day trips for the family, with plenty of parking and a snack bar. Trails are easily accessed and offer various distances and difficulties. The visitor center has free ranger-hosted programs and guided hikes. Mt. Rainier National Park limits the number of visitors to the park, so expect to wait up to an hour at the park entries during busy weekends. Parking passes are required. America the Beautiful pass is also accepted at all National Parks.
Even squirrels enjoy the view of Emmons Glacier.
Even though it has lodge in its name, Sunrise Lodge does not offer overnight services. White River Campground is located on a scenic 12-mile drive on Sunrise and White River Road. White River Campground is first come, first serve.
At 6400′, Sunrise sits near Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the United States outside of Alaska. Emmons is spectacular to witness from the various trails around Sunrise. Besides the close-up view of Mt. Rainier, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood volcanoes are visible from different areas. Sunrise lies on Yakima Park between Sourdough and Burroughs Mountains. From late July to early August, expect to see the illustrious wildflowers of Mt. Rainier amid the many immense meadows surrounding the trails.
Download the Mt. Rainier app on Google Play and the Apple Store for a digital interactive guide. At Mount Rainier, pets are NOT allowed on trails, in the wilderness and/or off-trail areas, inside buildings, in amphitheaters, or on roads closed for winter (service animals excepted). Pets are allowed in campgrounds and parking lots.
Sunrise Trail Runs
Northern Loop– Outside the Wonderland Trail, this 36.5-mile loop with over 12,000 feet of elevation is the classic trail run in Mt Rainier National Park.
There are many trail options from Sunrise.
Burroughs Mountain– A trail run to three Burroughs Mountain peaks looping with the Sourdough Ridge Trail. The Third Burrough is at 7800′ elevation and runs next to the Winthrop Glacier.
Glacier Basin Loop – A 9.5-mile loop using the Glacier Basin Trail, Burroughs Mountain Trail, and the Wonderland Trail from White River Campground. This run follows White River up to the Winthrop Glacier and back on the Wonderland Trail. This loop can be done from the Sunrise parking lot using the Sunrise Rim Trail.
Summerland– The 11-mile out and back near White River Campground to Panhandle Gap follows the Fryingpan Creek to Summer Land between the Emmons and Fryingpan Glaciers.
Serrated Skyline from Sourdough Ridge (Sean Harrasser)
Other runs from Sunrise include Owyhigh Lakes Trail (7 miles), Emmons Moraine Trail (3 miles), Silver Forest Trail (2 miles), Berkeley Park (7 miles), Mt Fremont (5.6 miles), Dege Peak (4.2 miles), and Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak (3.5 miles.) The 7-mile out and back on Palisades Trail starts at Sunrise Point on Sunrise Road, just a few miles from the lodge.
A trail map sign near the Sunrise Visitor Center.
Sunrise Trail Races
There are no trail races in Mt. Rainier National Park. However, there are some events just outside of the park:
White River 50-mile course takes place on trails from Buck Creek Campground near the White River Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.
There aren’t any trail running groups specifically for the area, but there are some nearby that we have featured in other community runs.
Olytrailrunners in Olympia was started in 2004 by a few trail running enthusiasts who wanted to invite others interested in running on the trails in Olympia area parks. Check the Facebook page for the location of Tuesday and weekend runs.
Seattle Running Club focuses on trails in the Seattle area, but it’s a great organization to find your trail running community.
Tacoma Runners is a large road running group, but it might be a way to find a fellow trail runner.
Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout (Sean Harrasser)
Coffee and Microbreweries
Express-o Yourself in Enumclaw has the typical coffee and breakfast sandwiches you find in a small cafe.
The Local in Enumclaw combines coffee with eclectic homewares and furniture.
If you happen to be heading through Wilkenson on the way to Mowich Lake, stop by Nomad PNW for coffee, pastries, and yummy empanadas.
On the way to Enumclaw from Mt. Rainier National Park is Greenwater Collective, a ski and mountain bike shop that serves several beers and wines to enjoy in Adirondack chairs on an outdoor patio.
Elk Head Brewing in Buckley has 14 beers on tap, views of Mt. Ranier, and wood carvings of sasquatch and other woodland creatures.
If traveling to Portland, stop at Rainier BaseCamp Bar and Grill in Ashford, just a few miles from Longmire. Not a brewery, but BaseCamp caters to the mountaineering crowd with pizza, craft beers, and a park-like setting.
This post may contain affiliate links, for which Northwest Dirt Churners receives a small commission from any sale when clicked from this site. These commissions will provide entry fees for youth runners in Northwest Dirt Churners trail races.