Carbon River bike and hike 5/5/19

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Carbon River bike and hike 5/5/19

Post by cfm » August 25th, 2019, 9:41 am

I try to do a few bikepacking trips every year. This is a delightful one I'd like to share.

The Carbon River Road washed out in a flooding event, I think it was 1996. They repaired it, but I guess they decided they couldnt maintain it for heavy traffic anymore, so they gated the road 5 miles downstream from Ipsut campground. The campground is available for walk or bike-ins. I picked up a permit at the Carbon River Ranger Station (I think it was free!) and I had an annual pass for my car.

The bike in is easy, 5 miles with just 500 ft of gain. Many people were doing this as a daytrip. There were a few rugged sections where you have to walk the bike, but nothing sketchy. You cant see Rainier from the road, but you get nice views up the river. The trees are magnificent.
Carbon River.jpg
heading out.jpg
The campground is in a beautiful forest setting along the river, it's perfect for hammock camping, but I just brought my tent. It has bear vaults and bike racks too.
After setting up my tent, I wandered up the Wonderland to the snout of the Carbon Glacier. About 9 miles round trip with 1500 eg.
Ipsut Ranger Cabin.jpg
A hiker's suspension bridge across the Carbon River just downstream from the glacier.
The terminus of the Carbon Glacier-I think it's the largest on Rainier.
glacier snout.jpg
There were some goats on the cliffs above the glacier

I had a comfortable night and in the morning, I packed up and zoomed back down to the gate and met a small group of Mazamas for a climb of nearby Gove Peak. I can't really recommend Gove Peak as a destination, it was a rather ridiculous bushwack, but we had fun and it did have a good view from top.
plunge stepping.jpg

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Re: Carbon River bike and hike 5/5/19

Post by Chip Down » August 29th, 2019, 6:43 pm

I haven't been there in ages. 2001/2002 I guess. I remember the flooding, and the subsequent uncertainty about future access. Looks like a bike is the smart way to go. Westside Road has a similar story, although I've heard of plans to restore it again for auto traffic.

That Carbon terminus is a treasure. I wish I had explored it, but was always in a hurry to get somewhere.

The suspension bridges on Rainier are fun, and prove that it's possible to build a bridge over a glacial creek.

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