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Mount Rainier National Park Lake James Trail

Lake James and Windy Gap Trails

Trail Description Windy Gap Lake James Distance, round-trip: 14 miles 17 miles Elevation gain: 3450 feet Hiking time, round-trip: 7 hours 9 hours Wilderness camps: Yes Yes Lake James was named by The Mountaineers in 1912 as a tribute to Park Ranger Thomas O'Farrell whose son was named James. As hikers often discover for themselves, Windy Gap is aptly named. Follow the Wonderland Trail two miles on a gently uphill grade to its junction with the Northern Loop Trail. Cross the Carbon River on a log bridge and turn left at another junction on the far side of the river. The trail soon begins a steep climb up numerous switchbacks through open, dry forest until finally reaching the subalpine meadows at Yellowstone Cliffs. From here the trail climbs for an additional one mile before it enters the beautiful, boulder-strewn meadows of Windy Gap. Beyond the gap, the route descends 1.5 miles to Lake James and the forest below.

Along the Trail Mountain goats frequent the Tyee Peak and Crescent Mountain areas near Windy Gap. Binoculars are recommended. Follow the short spur trail known as the Independence Ridge Trail (the junction can be found approximately one mile west of Windy Gap) to a unique natural bridge. Trailhead Location The trailhead is located at the road end at Ipsut Creek campground, five miles inside the northwest Carbon River Entrance to the park. Backpacking There are trailside camps at Yellowstone Cliffs, located 5.8 miles from the trailhead, and at Lake James Ranger Cabin, 8.5 miles from the trailhead. Crosscountry camping opportunities also exist for experienced minimum impact backpackers. Permits are required for camping. Permits and current trail conditions are available park-wide from Wilderness Information Centers, Ranger Stations, and Visitor Centers. Backpackers entering from Snoqualmie National Forest via the West Fork of the White River may obtain permits from the USFS office in Enumclaw. Fires are prohibited. No pets on trails. Treat water before drinking.

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