Area: Chinook Pass
||Hike Type: Dog-friendly||Pass: Northwest Forest Pass|
|Distance: 2.6 mi RT||Duration: 1 hr||Difficulty Level: Easy|
|Elevation Start: 5,450||Elevation End: 6,012||Elevation Gain: 560|
|Snow-Free: July – Oct|
Corral Pass is one of those treasures that are only accessible, depending on the snows of the winter, for 3-5 months during the summer. There are several trails originating from here that connect to other trails in the Norse Peak Wilderness, including the Pacific Crest Trail. There’s also a rustic campground at the end of the road with areas for horses. This is a very popular place for horseback riding, but fair warning, it’s a rough road to this point. However, if you’re looking for a good hike for children (they should be over seven because of the cliffs) and dogs, than Corral Pass is your ticket.
From Enumclaw, drive east on Highway 410 and 0.5 mile after passing the Alta Crystal Resort turnoff, look for Road 7174 (Corral Pass Road) on the left side of the highway. Travel past the private cabins along the first part of this road, then stay left and approach a gate. (The trailhead to Deep Creek is here.) After passing the gate, the next 6 miles are steep and very rough. Did I say very rough?? I meant VERY, VERY ROUGH!! Good brakes are a must for the drive down. This road is NOT recommended for camp trailers although we have seen horse trailers in the parking lot every time we’ve been there. At the end of the road is the Corral Pass Campground. Among the many trails in this area, our favorite place to go is a mile from the parking lot just outside of the campground. The Rainier View Trail is the shortest and easiest hike of the bunch. The trailhead is found to the left of the “fancy” toilet.
This gentle, but continuous uphill trail winds through a sub-alpine forest and delightful meadows until it flattens out at the top of the mountain. In July and August you’ll find many kinds of high meadow flowers blanketing the hillside. At about a mile, you arrive on the edge of a gigantic ridge of cliffs with the White River Valley stretching out before you 3,000 feet below. Here you have a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier, only a few ridges away. To your left, three ridges over, is the Summit House at Crystal Mountain Resort. On a clear day you can see Mt. Adams in the distance to the southeast. Any place along the ridge is nice for lunch, except if there are strong, cold winds gusting up the face of the cliffs. Our favorite spot is a rock formation we have named ‘Old Indian Head Rock’. Please be careful around loose rock and sand as it’s a LONG way down. We have continued along the trail for a ways, but have turned around when the trail began to descend the backside of the ridge.
To park at the trailhead, you will need a NW Forest Pass, which can be purchased at the White River Ranger Station in Enumclaw along with maps of the area. Be aware that October is hunting season, so either avoid this trail or wear lots of red. And remember, the 6 mile road to Corral Pass is VERY rough and steep.
Author’s Note: As I mentioned above, the trailhead to Deep Creek is also along Road 7174. We have done this trail a couple of times when the gate to access higher elevation was closed. This trail takes you through second growth forest to a beautiful stream and is a nice walk for young kids and dogs. (Go right at the “y” down into the gully.) After the creek, the trail continues uphill to another spectacular view of the Mountain, or so I hear. On our two attempts to see this view, snow turned us around and we lost the trail. We never did see Mt. Rainier, however, we did see the snow covered cliffs of the Corral Pass Ridge… an amazing site. Deep Creek a nice hike, but it’s my second choice on this road.
– Mary Janosik, Visit Rainier Hiking Expert
|Starting Point: 47.01285190877735, -121.4655089378357|
Trailhead: N 47° 00.767, W 121° 27.929