Documenting my Rainier obsession
about Mount Rainier where to start
about this site future plans
itinerary planner permits

Bald Rock

Difficulty: strenuous and off-trail

9.1 miles

Elevation gain: 3100'

Max elevation: 5400'

Camps: Nickel Creek

First hiked by me: 2023

This is an off-trail route. Only come here if your navigation is up to the task of finding your way where there are no trails to follow, and practice Leave No Trace to avoid damaging fragile terrain.

Most of the distance and elevation gain shown above comes from hiking up the Wonderland Trail from Box Canyon toward Indian Bar. If you already happen to be passing here, adding in the off-trail route to Bald Rock is 1.7 miles roundtrip with 700' gain.

Off-trail hiking on Rainier does not mean there are no paths to follow. If I've heard of a place and decided to hike there, it's a safe bet that many thousands will have done the same before. Wherever people go, their feet make paths. Sometimes these paths are helpful, following wise routes that are easy to follow. Other times they used to make sense before the landscape changed, trees fell blocking them, etc. Sometimes a path will seem promising but then peter out to nothing. Sometimes a good looking path resulted from a mistake made by a hiker of years past, who left footprints before realizing their error and backtracking. Other later visitors saw these footprints, copied the mistake, and strengthened the path. I was taken in by at least one such false route, doing my part to increase its visibility so it can continue to trick more hikers over the years to come :-)

That's a long way of saying: rely on your own skills to navigate here!

The route is mostly through forest, initially descending, then climbing quite steeply to the rocky summit. Unless you're much wiser at choosing where to walk than I was, expect to be doing quite a bit of pushing branches out of your face.

Views from the top are nice, but honestly not that different from what you can see far more easily directly from the Wonderland.

Turning off the Wonderland toward Bald Rock

Following a fragment of unofficial path

The hike is mostly forest, but there are occasional open patches

Tahoma, from Bald Rock