Hiking at Mount Rainier National Park can mean adventure, exploration, learning, or just plain having fun! The secret to a great hike? Staying safe!
Hikers need to emphasize personal safety as they journey by foot through the backcountry and along many of the popular trails. For trail conditions and information, talk with a ranger at any visitor center or wilderness information center. Be prepared for encounters with wildlife. Use the following tips to keep your journey safe.
Use Common Sense
Pay Attention To The Weather
At Mount Rainier, the weather can change rapidly. Hikers who aren’t prepared for weather conditions increase their risk of becoming lost or injured. Avoid problems by planning and preparing for Mount Rainier’s changeable weather. For more information on weather, including current forecasts, go to our weather page.
Hiking in Geohazard Zones
As a volcano topped with glaciers, the landscape of Mount Rainier can change suddenly and unexpectedly. Potential geohazards include glacier outburst floods and debris flows. Learn the signs and know how to get to safety.
Hiking in Spring
After a long, dark winter it can be exciting to be back in the park in spring! However, it's also easy to underestimate the risks and hazards at higher elevations on the mountain. Follow the tips for safe spring hiking.
Crossing Streams Safely
Many hikers underestimate the power of moving water and some consider their former successful stream crossings as a ticket to the other side. This may not be true. Regardless of your knowledge, skills, and experience use these pointers in making wise decisions when crossing a steam.
Remember, if you hear "boom" noises as boulders or large rocks move around in river, it means the water is STRONG and FAST. In addition to the current knocking you over, you could be hit by rocks moving in the river. Be cautious when deciding where to cross rivers, or if it's necessary to cross at all. Taking these few precautions could save your day...and your life!
Ice Cave Safety
Have you seen a cool photo of an ice cave lately that makes you want to find one at Mount Rainier? There are many safety issues with approaching or entering an ice cave (most of them are mostly melt water channels, not ice caves).
Alpine areas accumulate effects from erosion and misuse much faster than lower elevations. Concentrated travel to these areas can cause decades of resource damage in a matter of days. When visiting Mount Rainier’s meadows and alpine areas, hikers are asked to adhere to Leave No Trace guidelines by traveling on durable surfaces.
Hiking the Muir Snowfield
The Muir Snowfield, a permanent field of snow, ice and rock outcrops, is located north of Paradise between 7,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation. Thousands of people hike on the Muir Snowfield each year en route to Camp Muir. On a clear day, the hike is spectacular. But when the weather deteriorates, as it often and unpredictably does, crossing the Muir Snowfield can be disastrous.
While it may be disappointing to abandon your hike to Camp Muir, remember that the snowfield will still be there in better weather. Learn more about climbing Mount Rainier.
Last updated: September 2, 2022